SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 9, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Just as Utah appears to be making real progress in the year-long battle with COVID-19, critics fear a controversial bill passed by the Utah Legislature is threatening to unravel it all.
HB294, the so-called Endgame bill, kills a statewide mask mandate on April 10, although millions of Utahns have yet to receive even their first dose of a vaccine.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall effectively side-stepped the new law, wielding her own emergency powers to issue the city’s own mask mandate. Under Mendenhall’s order, the guidelines of the state’s original mask mandate set forth by former Gov. Gary Herbert in Nov. 2020 will remain in effect.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson has also stated her opposition to HB294, however, the new law strips her and other county mayors of their authority to issue emergency health orders. That duty now rests with local health departments upon approval from county councils or county commissioners.
Friday, both Mendenhall and Wilson appeared on the Bill Gephardt Show, and spoke candidly about their opposition to the new law, which they view as a dangerous power lawmakers designed to curry political favor with their base, even if costs lives.
Late Friday, the Utah Department of Health announced a new public health order just hours before the statewide mask mandate was set to expire.
To hear the mayors in their entirety, please click on the video player below.