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The COVID Anomaly That Is Utah

This Red State’s response to the pandemic was kind of astonishing until now.

4 min readAug 20, 2021


I live in Salt Lake County. I have two kids that are in school. They went to school all last year, too, and then we all followed protocol. The schools followed protocol. By the end of the last school year, the infection rate was 0.029%. The numbers tell us that everyone here did their job.

Masks were required to be worn by everyone at school. My kids were fine with the masks. We gave them emotional support for wearing the masks. We went to the bus stop with the kids every day that there was school. We picked them up. I took time off work or adjusted my work schedule whenever there was drama. We worked through every problem that came up.

Both of my kids are under 12 so they can’t get vaccinated. That’s my main worry. They’ve both done well at school last year, and this year, they will both attend school full time. But this year is different.

Utah passed a law to ban mask mandates. That means that schools can only encourage masks, they can’t require them. Clearly, there are people in this state who actually think that the virus is fake, or that it’s not really that dangerous.

But I only need to look at states like Texas and Florida to see that hospitals are filling up with cases. Hospitals in states with surges are having trouble staffing their floors, too. The vast majority of these cases are with people who are unvaccinated. And that means I’m concerned for my kids who can’t get vaccinated yet.

We encourage our kids to wear masks. I am aware that I cannot stop them from taking their masks off during school or when they get on the bus. I’ve tried to explain the risk to them. One seems to understand. The other says that half the kids in her class aren’t wearing masks, and she wants to be like them. I can totally understand her concern. There is a lot of peer pressure.

So I looked at the county data and found that in my school district, there has been only one case so far out of thousands of kids. But the incubation period for COVID is roughly 2–14 days. We won’t really know how things will turn out for at least another week.