With COVID-19 cases in Weber, Morgan and Davis counties continuing to spike — they’ve more than doubled in 22 days — calls for mask use are on the rise, at least among some.
Leaders in Layton posted a video encouraging their use. “We are not requiring masks, but we are requesting that you wear them out of courtesy for your family and friends and the community of Layton,” Dawn Fitzpatrick, a member of the Layton City Council, said in the video, posted Sunday.
Likewise, Trevor Warner, communications manager for the Davis County Health Department, put out a call. “Everyone needs to feel a sense of personal responsibility to social distance from each other, and if they can’t do that, then please, put on a mask. Keeping a distance from each other and wearing a mask are things you do not just to protect yourself, but to protect your neighbors, your colleagues and your loved ones,” he said.
The coronavirus case count in Weber, Morgan and Davis counties, like the state as a whole, continues to rise by record numbers and it’s paralleling moves and talk about heightened precautions to guard against its spread.
The Weber-Morgan Health Department reported 197 new coronavirus cases for the week ending last Saturday, up from 152 the week before, 121 the week ending June 13 and just 19 for the week ending May 2. In fact, since June 6, just three weeks ago, the case count has more than doubled in the two-county area, from 398 to 894 as of Sunday.
In response, Lori Buttars, the Weber-Morgan Health Department spokesperson, said officials are exploring ways to encourage increased compliance with safety recommendations like social distancing and mask use. She didn’t mention any specifics but said review of the new Salt Lake County mandate on mask use for those going out in the public is part of the discussion.
“We’re exploring ways of how to increase compliance,” she said. “The conversations are happening.”
The Davis County Health Department reported 250 new cases for the week, up from 203 the week before, 109 the week ending June 13 and just 26 for the week ending May 2. As in Weber and Morgan counties, the the case count has more than doubled since June 6, from 543 to 1,113.
“This virus is still very mysterious and will be around for the foreseeable future. We talk about the public taking precautions to protect themselves and their families, and it bears repeating that we need everyone to follow the public health guidelines that have been put in place,” Warner said. Aside from social distancing and mask use, he recommended that those feeling “even just one symptom of COVID-19” stay home.
Mask use continues to be controversial for some, but Harmon’s Grocery Stores announced Friday that it would start requiring use of coverings by customers, in addition to employees. The change took effect in Salt Lake County stores on Saturday and goes in effect at the Roy store, the only Weber County location, on Sunday, July 5.
“Harmons is committed to doing all that we can to keep our associates and customers safe,” Bob Harmon, the company chairman, said in a statement. Required use of masks, per state and federal health officials’ recommendations when social distancing isn’t possible, “is the obvious next step as cases continue to grow.”
Masks will be provided to those who need them.
Some bristle at mask use, viewing it as unnecessary or an infringement on their rights, and Harmons’ plans and the message from Layton officials spurred backlash, though just as much if not more support.
Intermountain Healthcare, the operator of McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, announced Monday that it would be reinstating more restrictive guidelines for visitors. The system had relaxed rules May 22 as the number of COVID-19 cases seemed to stabilize, but the uptick led to the return to the stricter rules. Only certain patients are now allowed visitors, including minors, women in labor, newborns and patients “at the end of life.”