Governor Spencer Cox announced Friday that Utah is about to start treatment of COVID-19 as influenza or other seasonal respiratory diseases before March 31, and stops right to declare an end to the pandemic, which is now entering its third year.
“Let me be aware that this is not the end of COVID,” the governor said during a news conference at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City, outlining the Utah Department of Health’s plans to interrupt the test for all but the most vulnerable Utahns as well as daily reports of the spread of the virus.
“As a state, we do not pack up and go home. We will continue to see cases and outbreaks and hospitalizations and sadly deaths. But that means we adapt to how we react to these things. There is still work to be done, “Cox said.
It is a transition from “an emergency and to a manageable risk model”, where it is up to Utahns themselves to decide whether to wear a mask, social distance or be vaccinated, he said, suggesting that for some at least is time to relax more.
“There are a whole bunch of people who are unvaccinated and unboosted and at high risk who should take this disease much more seriously. There are also a whole bunch of people in our state who are vaccinated and boosted and young and at low risk, who could tolerate taking this disease much less seriously, the governor said.
Over the next six weeks, he said the virus testing and treatment now provided by the state Department of Health will switch to private health systems. COVID-19 vaccinations and surveillance will continue to be handled by the public health agency, and tests and other supplies will be stored in the event of a future outbreak.
Science supports the move, Cox said, citing addiction wastewater testing for the virus and other measures after he urged most Utahns to skip test if they show symptoms. The number of cases in Utah has dropped since one January increase driven by the omicron variant along with hospitalizations, but the number of deaths remains high.
“We know where this is going. We know what the trends are. And if it does not, we have the opportunity to adjust. This idea that we have to get stuck in some crazy situation for always, is very, very unscientific, ”said the Republican leader, noting that other states, including those led by Democrats, are taking similar actions.
Utahns are ready for what would be the endemic phase of COVID-19, he said.
“As we move into this new phase of the pandemic response as we move away from a pandemic response, most Americans, most Utahns, are ready to be done with this,” the governor said, urging the Utahns to respect them. who continue to wear masks and take other precautions against the virus.
This story will be updated.