‘It’s really about personal responsibility now’: Governor, officials signal home stretch of COVID-19

ST. GEORGE — With COVID-19 infections locally, statewide and nationwide going from a plateau to a reduction this week, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox marked on Thursday the change from state-mandated health orders to personal responsibility.

Gov. Spencer Cox, wearing a T-shirt marking the last press conference for state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, speaks in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 6, 2021 | Screenshot from Gov. Spencer Cox Facebook page, St. George News

“It’s really about personal responsibility now. Especially those not vaccinated,” Cox said during his weekly COVID-19 press conference at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City. 

On Tuesday, the state reached the thresholds under the state Legislature’s “endgame” bill to end all state COVID-19 restrictions except for the mask mandate in K-12 schools. Under this bill, designated HB 294 in the 2021 Utah Legislature, that means: in the last 14 days statewide, there have been less than 191 new infections per 100,000 people; intensive care units are less than 15% full of COVID-19 patients in the last week; and more than 1.6 million doses of vaccine have been allocated to the state.

“We met the metrics of the endgame bill. We met them earlier than anticipated,” Cox said. “It means our case counts are down. It means our hospitalization utilization is down and more importantly, it means our vaccinations are up.”

Cox was also riding on the news from the Utah Department of Health that after a few weeks of plateauing, new infections in the state have been down 10% in the last week statewide to its lowest rate since June.

“The reason that is happening is vaccination efforts,” he said.

The same story is found in the local data, according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. Overall case rates and positive tests have seen a decrease in the last seven days, especially in Washington County, which at 90.1 cases per 100,000 people has the lowest case rate of any county in the state with a population of more than 20,000.

After Tuesday, the COVID-19 Transmission Index no longer has any regulatory power and is only a guide now, but Washington County moved from the “moderate” level to “low.”

Chart shows the percentage chance of being exposed to COVID-19 in room with 10 people in certain cities as of May 6, 2021, according to the Georgia Tech biological sciences department. | Background photos by Chris Reed, St. George News, Pixabay; Graphic by Chris Reed, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Iron County is the only area of Southern Utah lagging behind. With an increase in test positivity in the last seven days, Iron County is now the only Southern Utah county at the moderate transmission level. 

This points toward the growing contrast between the neighboring Southern Utah counties, as Washington County now has one of the lowest infection rates among counties in the state, while Iron County is among the three highest.

Nationwide, the signs were also promising as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new COVID-19 infections nationwide have reached their lowest levels in seven months.  

The press conference also served as a finale for the state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn.

Under his sports jacket at the press conference, Cox wore an “I love Dr. Dunn” T-shirt, as this was the last news conference for Dunn before she moves on to lead the Salt Lake County Health Department.

And Dunn is going out on a high note. She affirmed that while there is always uncertainty about the COVID-19 variants that have thus far still not been able to get past the vaccines, the pandemic is in its home stretch. 

 “The one thing we’ve learned is the virus will keep us on our toes. The one thing to watch is the variants but we have seen no evidence that is taking place, and the quicker we can get people vaccinated, the less likely that is to happen,” Dunn said. “We’re in a really, really good spot.”

Vaccines opening up for kids

State epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, with the Utah Department of Health, speaks during a press conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 6, 2021 | Screenshot from Gov. Spencer Cox Facebook page, St. George News

According to various news reports, the Federal Drug Administration is expected to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12 and above as soon as early next week, and state health officials said as soon as it is approved, it will be made available to kids statewide. 

Dunn said that will be the last game-changer that may provide the final “game over” for COVID-19 as a pandemic.

“This is fantastic for Utah. There are 250,000 people 12 to 15 and that group is contributing a lot to the transmission right now,” Dunn said. “So this will cause a huge effect. This is the most important step we can do to end the pandemic in Utah.”

There are also a growing number of national outlets now offering walk-in COVID-19 vaccine appointments for everyone, including Walmart in St. George and Cedar City and Target in St. George.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 16 and over. Those 16-18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine. Use vaccinefinder.org to find clinics that have the Pfizer vaccine. Pfizer vaccine may open up for those 12 and up next week.
  • Those who can receive the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment time.
  • Must register in advance online for an appointment time, though some pharmacies are offering walk-up appointments.
  • Must have a personal ID and wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment.
  • Proof of residency may be required, though a person does not have to reside in the county they are receiving the vaccine. Part-time residents can get vaccinated with proof of residency.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.
  • Those without email addresses or unable to make reservations online can get help at a specialized hotline at 435-986-2549.
  • To get alerts for when new vaccine appointments are added with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, text SWUHEALTH to 888777.
  • To receive a free ride to and from a vaccine appointment through Lyft, call 211.
  • Busineses, organizations and religious institutions can have a mobile vaccination clinic come to their campus free of charge by going to either this link or call the Southwest Utah Public Health Department at (435) 673-3528.

Washington County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department St. George office, 620 S. 400 East, St George

Reservations: Click to register 

Iron County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Cedar City office, 260 DL Sargent Dr., Cedar City, 84721.

Reservations: Click to register 

Kane County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Kanab office, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

Reservations: Click to register 

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Panguitch office, 601 Center St., Panguitch.

Reservations: Click to register

Beaver County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Beaver Office,  75 1175 North, Beaver.

Reservations: Click to register

St. George Regional Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital,  544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Various locations.

Reservations: Click to register

Revere Health:

Where: Revere Health Campus,  2825 E. Mall Drive, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

Rocky Vista University:

Where: Rocky Vista University – Southern Utah Campus,  255 E. Center St. in Ivins.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click to register

Lin’s Marketpace:

Where: 1930 W. Sunset Blvd.  and 2928 E. Mall Drive in St. George, 1120 State St. in Hurricane and 150 N Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 275 S River Rd. in St. George.

Reservations: Walk-ins available. Otherwise, click to register


Where: 2610 Pioneer Rd. in St. George, 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Walk-ins available. Otherwise, click to register

Family pharmacies:

Where: Several locations

Reservations: Use vaccinefinder.org to find a location near you

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

Check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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