MT. PLEASANT — Last Thursday, Sanpete County was moved to the high level on the state’s new transmission index. The transmission level is changed if a county meets two of the three metrics in the designated level of transmission. A county is moved to a higher level on the index the week it meets the criteria, while it moves down on the index only after meeting the criteria for two straight weeks.
The move to high on the index means Sanpete has met at least two of the following standards:
13% or higher seven-day average percent positivity for COVID tests.
325 or more cases per 100,000 residents (for Sanpete this equals about 98 cases).
72% or higher ICU utilization AND 15% or more COVID ICU utilization.
At the time of reporting, Sanpete County has 131 active cases with 2 hospitalizations, and 266 recovered cases.
A North Sanpete area resident who recently tested positive for COVID-19 said she was tested because she had been in contact with someone who was found positive for the virus. She said she didn’t want to infect her coworkers. Her symptoms have been fairly mild — mostly feeling tired, coughing, and a stuffy nose.
She said her employer and the Health Department worked with her and were helpful in making sure those she had been in contact with were informed.
Nate Selin, director of the Central Utah Public Health Department, stated that the new transmission index is not driven by the local health departments. According to Selin, the state Health Department along with the governor and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox put it together. He said he actually found out about the new index via text message shortly before the it was made public.
Selin also stated that the mask mandatory status is being pushed down from the state level. Local authorities have been asking for no mandates from the beginning.
“We never like to be told we have to do something,” said Selin. “We just don’t like that approach.”
Even though he doesn’t like the approach he does agree that masks are working in slowing the spread and he does support using them when social distancing can’t take place.
“We also still need to be practicing good hygiene, washing our hands, wearing clean masks — and please stay home when you are sick,” stated Selin.
When asked about the mandate of having 10 people or less at social events versus school and athletics, Selin stated that it’s mostly those casual social events they are trying to keep under 10 people. He said that when school or city events are held, the directors and administrators know the guidelines that need to be put in place to keep everyone safe.
“Events such as school, concerts, sporting events, city council meetings, and pageants just have better organization than just a casual event,” stated Selin.
North Sanpete School District Superintendent Nan Ault sent an email to parents introducing the COVID dashboard on the district website. The message came after additional cases were reported in the district. The dashboard will help parents keep up-to-date on the numbers of positive cases in each school within the district, and also the number quarantined. The quarantined number will reflect those students and staff exposed in schools or the community.
In order to keep going in the direction we have been in keeping schools open, the email stated that officials keep repeating that people wear masks in school and that they need to stay home when they are sick. The district said that this will be more important with the upcoming winter season as everything shifts indoors.