November 11, 2020 -- Protesters came out immediately after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert put a statewide face mask mandate into place.
A crowd gathered outside the governor’s mansion to complain about the mask rule and other new restrictions put in place in an effort to hold down Utah’s climbing case count.
“He doesn’t have the authority to tell us what to do in our own lives, in our homes and what we wear,” said Ken Whetstone, who was protesting outside the governor’s mansion on Monday, according to the Deseret News.
“People are afraid. You’re a little person standing against a big government, and a lot of people have been intimidated. Shame on them, who are allowing the government to intimidate them.”
Another protest happened in Orem, outside Herbert’s personal home.
This is not Utah’s first protest against face masks. Last month, protesters showed up at the state Senate building to complain about a rule requiring masks in counties that have high levels of coronavirus transmission.
The statewide mask rule went into effect Monday and requires people to wear masks in public and whenever they come within 6 feet of somebody they don’t live with.
Herbert’s order also limits the size of social gatherings and requires college students attending in-person classes to be tested at least once weekly.
Herbert is hoping to bring down the surging number of cases. Utah has averaged more than 2,000 new cases daily recently and has a 20% test positivity rate, the state health department says. As of Monday, 6,284 people were hospitalized with coronavirus.
Overall, the state has recorded almost 135,000 cases and 661 virus-related deaths.
Utah’s neighbor to the east, Colorado, is also grappling with a surge in cases. The state has had a statewide mask mandate since July and on Monday, Gov Jared Polis extended it for another 30 days.
"Let's stop this bloodshed," Polis said, according to the Coloradoan. "All that's being asked of you is cancelling your social plans outside of your home for the next few weeks."
Overall, Colorado has reported more than 134,000 cases and 2,400 deaths. As of Tuesday, more than 10,000 people were hospitalized because of the virus with a seven-day average of more than 3,000 new cases daily, the state’s COVID dashboard said. The state’s seven-day average for the positivity rate is 11.47%.