SPANISH FORK — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and first lady Abby Cox both received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, and the governor said Utah could lift all coronavirus-related restrictions by July.

The governor made his announcement that Utah is on pace to lift restrictions by the summer a day after he signed a bill that lifts the statewide mandate on April 10.

The bill, approved by the Utah State Legislature during the general session, also states that public health orders issued by the Utah Department of Health related to COVID-19 shall be terminated once 1.6 million vaccination doses have been allocated to the state.

As of Thursday morning, Utah health officials have administered over 1.2 million vaccine doses, according to Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson.

The governor and first lady both received the Pfizer vaccine a day after Utah expanded vaccine eligibility to all Utahns ages 16 and older. Cox noted that they would’ve taken whichever vaccine was available at the Utah County facility.

“The best vaccine for you is the vaccine that’s available, as soon as you can possibly get it,” the governor said during a press conference at the Spanish Fork facility, which is set up inside an old Shopko location. “So don’t worry about the brand of the vaccine, they are all incredibly effective and incredibly safe.”

Before getting a shot in his arm from a Utah County Health Department nurse, the governor joked about “the gun show that is about to happen.”

“I will just say that every day is leg day at my house in Fairview,” he laughed.

Gov. Cox noted that President Joe Biden’s administration said that Utah will be “getting thousands and thousands of doses of Johnson & Johnson over the next week and moving forward.”

The governor also reminded Utahns that “as restrictions lessen and change, we still ask you to please, please, please be careful.”

“Get vaccinated, make sure you get your second dose, all of those things that you’ve been doing you need to keep doing because the end is so close and the end is in sight,” he said.

Henderson, who is from Spanish Fork, welcomed those at the press conference, who included Utah County commissioners Bill Lee and Tom Sakievich, “to my hometown and the best city in the state of Utah: Spanish Fork.”

Henderson noted that 80% of Utahns 65 and older have received at least one dose, while 57% have been fully vaccinated.

Of Utahns 70 and older, 83% have had at least one vaccine dose and 67% have received both doses.

“This is the clearest path back to normalcy for all of us,” the lieutenant governor said about vaccination. “And so we encourage everyone who is now eligible, and that’s everyone over the age of 16, to go ahead and get your vaccine scheduled. It may take a little bit of time, you may have to wait a couple of weeks, but please, don’t hesitate, don’t wait, try to get that scheduled as soon as you can. Because that’s the way we’re going to get back to normal.”

Henderson also spoke about efforts by state officials to ensure equity of vaccine distribution, including setting up mobile vaccination clinics to serve long-term care residents and staff and working to reduce barriers at vaccination clinics throughout the state.

“This pandemic has affected everyone, it’s affected some people more than others,” the lieutenant governor said, adding that “just because a vaccine is available, just because someone is eligible, doesn’t mean that vaccines are accessible to them.”

Utah’s seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases this week is 419, a decrease from 489 last week, according to State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn, who said cases are decreasing statewide but at a slower rate than they have been in recent weeks.

“So we need to continue … to wear face coverings, physical distance when we can and stay home when we’re sick, and, of course, get the vaccine when it’s your turn,” said Dunn.

The Utah Department of Health reported 527 new coronavirus cases and seven new deaths on Thursday.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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