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Holladay Journal

Utah Officials Encourage Limited Gatherings and Other Precautions Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Mar 12, 2020 01:27PM ● By Justin Adams

Lt. Governor Spencer Cox speaks during the press conference. (Photo via the Utah Coronavirus Task Force Twitter account)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

A number of Utah leaders held a press conference On Thursday afternoon to explain the state's various institutions' response to growing concerns related to COVID-19, or Coronavirus.

"We do know based on the evidence we're seeing here that the spread is going to occur," said Utah Governor Gary Herbert. "We've stopped making decisions based on the hope things will get better, we're making them based on the assumption they will get worse."

Herbert encouraged Utah residents to limit mass gatherings to 100 healthy people or less. He also said that those over the age of 60 should avoid gathering in groups of 20 more people.

"This includes church gatherings. This includes concerts. This includes conferences and other activities where people gather together," said Herbert. 

Those guidelines do not yet apply to public K-12 schools or businesses with 100 or more employees. A Department of Education spokesperson said that public school closures will be a "local decision."

Almost every institution of higher learning in the state has moved towards moving classes to online forums. 

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins announced during the press conference that all of its classes will be administered online through the end of the semester. 

Officials stressed that people don't need to panic.

"We're not making these decisions today because things are really bad. We're making these decisions so things don't get really bad," said Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox. 

"Our water supplies are good and abundant. Stockpiling water is not a necessary thing," said Herbert, referencing people who have descended on local stores to purchase cases of water, toilet paper and other provisions. 

Dr. Angela Dunn, the state's chief epidemiologist said that families can continue to take their kids on walks to the park and let them play on the playground, or go to the grocery store. 

The press conference came one day after the world-wide virus began to make more tangible impacts on the lives of Utahans.

On Wednesday morning, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that its semi-annual General Conference held in downtown Salt Lake City will not allow the public to attend the event in-person. 

A Utah Jazz game scheduled to take place in Oklahoma City was cancelled at the last minute when it was learned that Jazz player Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the virus. An announcement soon followed that the whole NBA season would be suspended. 

Additional announcements from other local institutions are sure to follow as cities, school districts and others consider the state's guidance. We here at the City Journals want to help you stay up to date with how this is impacting your community, so be sure to follow the local City Journal for your area on Facebook.