Despite rising coronavirus cases, U.S. states aren’t shutting down—but Utah is raising the alarm

Utah coronavirus cases rising
Photo via Pedro Szekely/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

On June 23, more than 30 states had higher averages of daily new COVID-19 infections than the week before, the Washington Post reports. Though no state has officially reclosed its economy, Utah could be the first to revert to a shutdown if its state health officials have anything to say about it. 

By late June, new COVID-19 cases averaged 470 a day in the Beehive State. Dr. Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist, said those numbers indicate contact tracing and testing will not be enough to slow the surge, according to the Salt Lake Tribune

In a Utah Department of Health document, Dunn said the state was “quickly getting to a point where the only viable option to manage spread and deaths will be a complete shutdown.” 

The document says that if the state cannot get its new COVID-19 infections down to a seven-day average of 200 new cases per day by July 1, the state will need to revert to a shelter-in-place. 

After reading the memo, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) tweeted that while Dunn’s memo “raises alarm” about the COVID-19 situation in the state, he has no plans to shut down the economy.  

Herbert isn’t the only governor to resist re-implementing safety procedures in response to a spike in cases. For example, according to the Guardian, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis (R) says he refuses to slow or reverse the state’s reopening plan. 

“We’re not shutting down,” he said. “We’re going to go forward. We’re not rolling back. You have to have society function.” 

Some governors have already had to begin to change their tune, however. On June 22, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) recommended residents stay home as much as possible, according to the Texas Tribune. Abbott went as far as to scale back his statewide order and to give local officials the freedom to place restrictions on outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people. He also enacted mandatory health standards for child care centers. He did emphasize that he considers closing the economy to be his last option. 

According to CNBC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House coronavirus advisor, told Congress that he doesn’t necessarily recommend a full lockdown—just a pausing in the reopening of society. 

“I wouldn’t necessarily say an absolute shutdown, lockdown, but if someone is going from gateway to phase 1 to phase 2 and they get into trouble in phase 2, they may need to go back to phase 1,” Fauci, said. “I don’t think they necessarily need to go back to lockdown.”

Sources: Washington Post, Salt Lake Tribune, The Guardian, Texas Tribune, CNBC 

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