The document “Utah Leads Together” (Version 2) describes Governor Herbert’s plan to mitigate the economic consequences of COVID-19. The plan, available at https://coronavirus.utah.gov/, lists measures and targets for ranking COVID-19 risk as High, Moderate, or Low, and helps answer questions about how we can monitor and respond to changing coronavirus conditions, and strike a balance between mitigating health risk and restoring economic well-being.
However, the lack of evidence about the status of risk measures used to justify Gov. Herbert’s recent decision to downgrade COVID-19 risk from High to Moderate on May 1 is troubling. The risk measures listed in the plan include hospitalizations, hospital utilization, rates of testing and positive cases, and transmission. At the time the plan was published on April 17, hospital utilization and new hospitalizations were meeting plan targets. Numbers of new cases remain below targets of 200 to 300 per day; but the target of 4,000 to 6,000 tests per day has not been achieved since April 28. Of particular concern is the significant rise recently in the percentage of tests returning positive for COVID-19. UDH data also indicates no decrease in the rate of new cases per day. Available evidence supporting the decision to downgrade the COVID-19 risk level is therefore limited, mixed and uncertain.
Residents should have access to more complete information about the status of risk measures to better understand the rationale for COVID-19 risk level adjustments and mitigate false perceptions of security and unnecessarily risky behavior as social restrictions are eased.