COVID-19 Numbers 03 (copy)

A shopper exit Smith's wearing a mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on Friday, June 12, 2020, in North Ogden.

The notion of some sort of mask mandate has been discussed in Weber and Davis counties to slow the spread of COVID-19, but only in general terms.

It doesn’t appear to have solid traction, and the conditions, by some key measures, aren’t quite as dire this far north as compared to Salt Lake and Summit counties, where new rules requiring mask use in certain circumstances recently went in effect.

Davis County Commissioner Lorene Kamalu said a mandate has been considered in light of questions and clamoring from the public on the subject. That’s about it, though. “Really for now, we’re ruling out a mandate,” she said.

Though discussed, Brian Bennion, head of the Weber-Morgan Health District, which serves Weber and Morgan counties, wonders how a mask mandate could viably be enforced. And if some sort of mask stipulation were put in place, he thinks it ought to be a statewide measure. He cited the interconnected nature of the crowded counties along the Wasatch Front, with the heavy travel within the zone. Beyond that, he noted current guidelines already in effect in Weber and Morgan counties that call for use of masks by employees in regular contact with others, in healthcare settings and other circumstances.

While debate rages around the country on mandating mask use, the caseload in Weber, Morgan and Davis counties lags that of Salt Lake and Summit counties, the two mask-mandating counties in Utah. The Weber-Morgan figure sat at 467.6 cases per 100,000 residents while the Davis County figure was 418 per 100,000 residents. The figures in Salt Lake and Summit counties, by contrast, were 1,106.9 and 1,273.5 cases per 100,000 residents, respectively, according to Utah Department of Health figures.

Still, as in the rest of the state and many parts of the country, coronavirus cases in Weber, Morgan and Davis counties continue to grow and grow. Weber and Morgan counties registered 305 cases for the week ending July 4, up from revised figures of 239 for the week ending June 27, 158 for the week ending June 20 and just 19 cases for the week ending May 2. Davis County registered 304 cases for the week ending July 4, up from 251 for the week ending June 27, 203 for the week ending June 20 and just 26 for the week ending May 2.

All told, 1,255 confirmed COVID-19 cases had been registered in Weber and Morgan counties as of July 6, the vast majority in Weber County, with 1,470 more in Davis County and 25,469 in all around Utah, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Trevor Warner, spokesperson for the Davis County Health Department, said as cases mount, an increasing focus should be put on personal responsibility, the obligation of the public at large to take the situation seriously. It can’t necessarily be a government mandate dictating what people do. Indeed, if someone is upset with safety rules and measures in effect at a business, say, they can express their concern by staying away from that locale.

“The people are the ones driving the ship here,” Warner said. “This is a personal responsibility thing now.”

Though there may be no mask mandate this far north, Kamalu is a big proponent of their use. “That it is something that prevents viruses spread substantially, there is no question about that,” she said.

By the same token, Bennion said masks aren’t the only way to guard against coronavirus. Social distancing and hand washing are also key. “Just because you have a mask on, that’s not the end all,” he said.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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