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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert speaks at a press conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City on June 11. Spenser Heaps/Deseret News/Pool/AP

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has paused the lifting of restrictions following spikes in Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks.

The governor said during a news conference Thursday that the increase in cases is “giving them pause.” 

The state will remain in the “yellow” phase of reopening with the exception of one county, Brooke Scheffler, public information officer for Herbert, told CNN in a text Friday. 

She also confirmed that Salt Lake City will remain in the “orange” phase, which is below yellow.

“What should we in fact do as a reaction to this spiking of infection? For the most part, I think the answer is that we will pause and really for the most part maintain yellow guidance in most of the state,” Herbert said Thursday. 

Utah’s state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said in the news conference there was a “great spike in the growth rate of cases” after Memorial Day.

 Here are the numbers, according to Dunn:

  • Daily state cases have been in the 200 to 300 range since Memorial Day.
  • In the weeks leading up to Memorial Day, the percent of positive tests was hovering “around 4 to 4 ½ %.”
  • In the two weeks since Memorial Day, they have seen the trend increase to 7% for a weekly average and then 10% percent positive for the last week.

“There are some parts of the state that are being hit harder than others, and there’s localized outbreaks and hotspots, but by and large, we are seeing this increase in cases throughout the state,” Dunn said.

The governor said he “doesn’t want to take a step forward and then take a step backward.” 

Under yellow guidance, there are no economic activities that are categorically prohibited, Herbert explained.

“We’ve not gone down the road as many other states have done of identifying essential or nonessential businesses and services,” he said. “We’ve had minimal restrictions for in house dining, public schools closing, which are not insignificant in its impact, but we have been listed as the fourth least restrictive state in America and addressing this pandemic, we’ve not closed down the economy.”

Other states and cities — like Oregon and Nashville, Tennessee — have also announced delays in reopening plans due to elevated cases.

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