CACHE COUNTY – Local officials are expecting that Cache County will move from the current statewide Orange risk level due to the coronavirus to a Yellow risk level on Friday, May 15.
County Executive Craig Buttars broke that news to members for the Cache County Council at their regular meeting via Zoom video-conferencing on May 12.
“We’ve had several new cases of coronavirus confirmed over the past few days,” Buttars acknowledged, “but they’ve only involved a few families and they’re now in isolation. We had two new cases reported on Monday (May 11) and zero new cases today.
“We’re currently under the Orange risk level for the disease and that’s scheduled to remain in effect until Friday (May 15). But we’re anticipating an announcement by Gov. Gary Herbert between now and Friday that will move us to the lower Yellow threat level.”
Council Chairman Karl B. Ward reported that he had he had gotten similar indications during a previous conference call with Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, the chair of the Utah COVID-19 Task Force.
Ward said that Cox mentioned that Herbert was now open to the idea of moving to lower coronavirus threat levels “on a regional basis” if the circumstances are appropriate. Herbert and Cox had previously been opposed to regional exceptions to the statewide threat level status when they denied an early May request from officials in Washington, Kane and Iron counties in southern Utah to move to a lower threat level.
“So, if our local health department is on-board,” Ward added, “ there’s a good possibility that we’ll be able to move ahead (with dropping to a lower threat level) independent of what the state decides to do.”
Under the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan announced by Herbert, Utah’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been guided by an infection threat level spectrum ranging from high risk to what state officials are calling “the new normal” risk level. Those threat levels are color-coded from red to orange to yellow to green.
Under the Red (high) threat level imposed in mid-March, Utahns were instructed to self-isolate, work from home and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Government offices, schools, businesses and restaurants were closed. Sporting events and other public gatherings were cancelled.
Under the statewide Orange (moderate) threat level that took effect May 1, some businesses were allowed to reopen. Those included restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, provided their managers enforced restrictive social distancing and sanitation guidelines. State officials also announced that “private social interactions that occur without oversight by a formal organization are allowable in groups of 20 or fewer people.”
Although details of state guidelines under a Yellow (low) threat level are still evolving, it is expected that more businesses will be allowed to reopen, including some entertainment venues and tourist attractions. Social distancing and enhanced hygiene requirements will still be in effect. The limit on the size of private social gatherings is expected to increase to 50 people.