At 4 p.m. on Friday, the state stood still while Governor Herbert held a press conference and outlined additional guidelines he called “Stay Safe, Stay Home.” Most of the four-page document is a stronger reiteration of what has already been stated — work from home, isolate if you have symptoms, maintain a 6-foot social distancing bubble, wash hands frequently, etc. Before he got into the specifics, he shared that he has suspended one of his favorite traditions that has lasted 25 years: a Sunday night dinner with his six kids and 17 grandkids. He understands this is getting personal for all of us. Another important document was also released on Friday from the federal government: the CARES Act worth $2 trillion. Here are some highlights of both documents, as well as other takeaways from Friday’s events.
Gov. Herbert’s directive begins Monday, March 30, and has an ending date of April 13, 2020. “Stay Safe, Stay Home” asks us to avoid playdates, playground equipment, and in-person interaction with family members and friends over 60. The governor specifically asked us not to go to gyms, fitness centers, public pools or public amusement places. The word “salons” was not officially mentioned in the document, although on the Silicon Slopes Town Hall, Utah Speaker of the House Brad Wilson said “personal care businesses” were to close during this two-week period. State parks will remain open, but only to residents in which the park resides. The four state parks in and near Utah County are Camp Floyd, Utah Lake, Deer Creek, and Flight Recreation Area at the Point of the Mountain. Wilson called these “significant and incremental changes.” Gov. Herbert said leisure drives are allowed and encouraged, especially as it helps our mental health, but he encouraged us to think about what we could do at home before we head out for any reason. “We want to re-enforce the idea of staying safe and staying home. That’s the place to be most of the time. We know there are exceptions that are necessary and appropriate,” he said. This directive still allows most businesses to remain open if they follow guidelines of working from home or maintaining safety measures if in a physical location. Hiking, biking, running, hunting, walking and fishing are all OK.
Daily Dose of Gary
Starting on Monday, Gov. Herbert will address the public each day with updates and information.
Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox noted that this directive is impossible to enforce — and the state doesn’t plan to try. “We could talk about enforcement all day long, but people just have to choose to do this,” he said. “We can’t arrest anyone we see who is less than six feet apart. It’s not practical. We really have to make people understand how serious this is. The only way to get on the other side of this is to get on the side of this directive,” Cox said.
Cox advised us not to get caught up in whether this is a “Stay at Home” or “Shelter in Place” order (see my Thursday post for definitions of these terms). “We can’t get caught up in the nomenclature,” he said. “I don’t believe if we call it the right thing it will solve the problem. I encourage people to understand the spirit of what we are trying to accomplish here.” In the press conference, Gov. Herbert talked us through why he didn’t like the phrase “Shelter in Place.” “That sounds like World War II, and we think there is a better way to phrase it. We wanted to emphasize what we CAN do. We are doing what we can to help businesses stay open if they meet the required safety initiatives,” he said.
Let’s Get to Half Time
Gov. Herbert says the state is tracking the data and acknowledged that a week from now they will know more about whether what we are doing is working. To further illustrate, he used a football analogy. “If we’re ahead at halftime, then in the next half we’ll do more of the same. If we’re not ahead, we’ll come up with a new gameplan.”
Not A One Size Fits All
Gov. Herbert acknowledged that areas of the state might enforce stricter guidelines based on need. “If one of our 13 health departments in the state needs more stringent requirements, modifications can be made. Medical advice is going to drive policy in this state. This isn’t something we are deciding out of thin air.”
Gov. Herbert announced that after working with Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, only ticketed passengers will be allowed in public areas of the Salt Lake Airport (with the exception of one person to accompany the ticketed passenger into the terminal if needed). To pickup family members at the airpot, you must remain in cars at the curbside or in the parking garage.
Read the whole “Stay Safe, Stay Home” document here: coronavirus.utah.gov
Utah had its second COVID-19 death. Although the man was from southwest Utah, he passed away in Salt Lake City. He did have significant underlying conditions in addition to COVID-19. As a state, we are now at 480 positive cases, which is an increase of 78 cases or 19 percent from Thursday. Let’s look at the county counts: Utah County has 25 cases, while Salt Lake County has 181 cases and Summit County has 103 cases. We are holding steady at 5 percent positive tests and 10 percent of patients needing hospitalization. Even even though there are some reasons to celebrate, we are still somewhat on track with where New York was 12 days ago (see photo). And the missionaries who have returned from around the world are less than a week into their 14-day isolation period. We don’t yet know what viruses they may have brought home with them.
Also up from Thursday is the number of total tests, which increased by 1,534 for a total of 9,244. It’s important to note that there is a delay in when tests are taken and when results are reported. Tests that are administered today will likely be reported in two days. On Thursday, we tested 2,200 people (out of a 2,600 capacity). By early next week, the state’s capacity will be at 3,500. Nomi Health’s Mark Newman acknowledged there are different thoughts on testing in Utah. Some thing we have plenty of testing, others are saying tests are hard to come by. “We’re battling this out, and it’s tiring. This has been the hardest part of the entire initiative,” Mark said. “Our goal is for anyone in Utah to have access to get tested.”
Lehi-based Castlight Health created a website for searching testing capabilities by state and county. It doesn’t seem comprehensive YET … but I love seeing Utah companies offer solutions. Https://my.castlighthealth.com/corona-cirus-testing-sites.
How Long Will this Last?
Juliette Tennert, director of Economic and Public Policy Research, Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, shared with the Women Tech Council the details of the “Utah Leads Together” plan released earlier in the week. The state’s 16-page plan, which was formed in combination with leaders of various industries, includes an Urgent Phase, Stabilization Phase and Recovery Phase — each with anticipated lengths. All in all, these phases range from 26 weeks to 38 weeks (or 6.5 months to 9.5 months). We aren’t going to turn this ship around overnight — speaking both of the health AND economic challenges. But we have metrics to track progress. As the state works through the phases, the guidelines for gathering will relax and the economy will start to track positively. Gov. Herbert’s “Stay Safe Stay Home” directive is to help us get through the Urgent Phase more quickly. “If we don’t get this phase right, the other two phases don’t count much,” Gov. Herbert said. “If we do it right, we can turn this around in a few weeks instead of a few months.” (see photos of the phases)
The stimulus bill is heavy in terms of page count (1,000 pages) and ideas to stimulate the economy. I delayed posting this update so I could learn more about the CARES Act (stands for “Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act). But there’s a lot to summarize. Benefits are for individuals ($560 billion), corporations ($500 billion), small businesses ($377 billion), etc. Individuals will receive their $1,200 checks without filing for it, and the checks should arrive within two weeks. Small businesses and corporations will need to work with banks to apply for loans and grants. I am proud of our federal leaders for acting quickly and finding ways to help nearly all of us. Will this truly turn the economy around? Or will it become a burden for us and our children in other forms in months and years to come? Nobody can accurately see that far. Right now we can barely see past the two weeks outlined by Gov. Herbert.
Utah’s Mountains Have Heart
David Hartle lit up the mountain above Pleasant Grove the past couple nights with the shape of Utah with a heart inside. He hosted a contest on Facebook to pick the design of his mountain light installation. After receiving 40 entries, he let people vote and the final design was picked. (The second place choice was a roll of toilet paper.) David says he’ll be lighting up the mountain for the next several nights. Take a leisurely, social distanced drive to see this creativity at night.
This Sunday, March 29, is Vietnam Veterans Day. Of the four veteran homes in Utah, half of the residents fought in the Vietnam War. Since traditional parades have been canceled, the parade is going TO the veterans. At noon this Sunday, posters will be displayed outside windows at veterans homes in Utah. Be part of this safe celebration! Make and bring a poster before noon on Sunday to put in the grass outside veterans homes. (The one in Utah County is Mervyn Sharp Bennion Veterans Home, 1551 North Main Street, Payson). Former Miss America Sharlene Wells Hawkes is the mastermind behind these Vietnam Veterans Day “parades.”
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited his members and others around the world to fast this Sunday for help and healing for COVID-19. No take-out needed for this! Just prayers and faith.
Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith recommended on the Silicon Slopes Town Hall that his fellow CEOs reach out to their people daily or at least weekly. He’s surveyed 12,000 companies around the globe, and so far nobody has been accused of “over-communicating” with their team.“If you feel like you’re communicating a lot, it’s probably time to turn it up 20 percent,” Ryan told Silicon Slopes on the Town Hall Friday. “Social isolation is a real thing. The anxiety and stress for anyone working from home is skyrocketing. My concern is a massive mental health situation coming on. Our people can handle change, but they can’t handle uncertainty.”
In This Together
Davis Smith, a universally loved CEO and founder of Cotopaxi, said three weeks ago he was on a survival trip in the Amazon with other CEOs. At night they could hear jaguars roaring in the distance, and the reason it was bearable is that he wasn’t alone. In the spirit of unity and in the face of the COVID-19 “jaguar,” Davis designed a T-shirt with the logo “OneUtah.” He encouraged CEOs to buy shirts for their employees and parents to buy them for their families. All proceeds go to SlopesServes.com to be used for needs in Utah related to COVID-19.
Let Us Help You
Mark Newman said that any local nonprofit could create an Amazon Wish List and share it with www.SlopesServes.com so we can understand what your needs are.
In summary, let’s jump on board with Gov. Herbert’s directives. “We need to do this in concert together so we will not only survive but thrive in a few weeks. We have reason to believe we have the policies are in place that will work if everyone participates and does their part.” Go team!