Gov. Spencer Cox promises to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations in Utah

Gov. Spencer Cox will issue an executive order aimed at speeding up Utah’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

”This virus does not sleep. This virus does not take weekends off. And neither should we,” Cox said Friday at his first COVID-19 media briefing.

Under the order, facilities must allocate their vaccinations within the week they are received, Cox said. If they don’t, their leftover doses will be redistributed by the state to other facilities, he said.

Also, every facility must report daily statistics to the Utah Department of Health by 7 a.m. every day.

Local health districts will manage the vaccine distribution, Cox said. They are being tasked to give out 50,000 doses of vaccine a week.

“We will be able to exceed, with capacity, the actual number of doses we are receiving,” Cox said.

Utah’s 50,000 teachers will start getting their vaccines Monday, Cox said. He said he is telling school districts to prioritize older teachers, and those with underlying health conditions, to get the vaccine first.
The second phase of the vaccine rollout will start Jan. 18, Cox said, with Utahns over 70 and older. Previous Gov. Gary Herbert had set eligibility at age 75, and Cox has lowered that.

The state has received 5,000 doses of monoclonal antibodies — the same infusion treatment that President Donald Trump received when he contracted COVID-19 last fall — and they will be distributed to Utah’s long-term care facilities, Cox said.

“Unfortunately, this disease is surging again,” Cox said. “The fundamentals still apply, my fellow Utahns. Wear a mask. Social distancing. Contact tracing.”

Asked about a report that the incoming Biden administration will release all available vaccine doses immediately, Cox said, “we are prepared, and will be ready, when and if that actually occurs.”

This story is developing and will be updated.

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