As the state of Utah prepares to reopen, it’s making sure any resident who wants a mask will get one

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live our lives. As the entire world faces a new normal, we are ordered to stay in our homes, leave only when necessary, and wear protective equipment gear everywhere we go. This outbreak has also rid us of the chance to be close to everyone else, literally, as social distancing protocols are put in place.

The state of Utah is preparing to reopen its businesses, but it’s making sure its residents get the protection they need. Governor Gary Herbert announced a project called “A Mask for Every Utahn,” which will ensure that anyone who needs and asks for a mask will get one for free.

“We want to do everything we can as we work together as a state to combat COVID-19,” the leader said in a statement. “Wearing a mask when we are out in public may not be convenient, but it can help slow the spread of the virus. Let’s all do our part in stopping the spread and helping to protect those around us.”

The federal CARES Act provides the program’s funding. Through it, the state was able to buy two million face masks from the Utah Manufacturers Association and Cotopaxi, an outdoor retailer based in Utah.

The face masks aren’t just helping protect people from getting infected with the virus; they’re also aiding citizens with their need for employment. According to a news release, the masks, which will all be manufactured in the state of Utah, are providing 200 of its residents with jobs.

The washable cloth masks will be delivered to residents who fill out an online order form. It could take up to three weeks for the masks to be mailed, so the priority for shipments will be the essential workers and the vulnerable, such as the elderly.

As of Wednesday evening, the state of Utah has recorded 4,497 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 45 deaths. The local government is advising people to wear masks in public as it eases up on its “Stay Safe, Stay Home” mandate. On Tuesday, Gov. Herbert announced that the state would shift from high risk to moderate risk status beginning on Friday.

“Wearing a mask in public will be the new norm, at least until we have a vaccine for COVID-19, to help protect health and foster economic recovery,” according to a statement from his office.

Governor Gary Herbert | Twitter

Starting on May 1, restaurants will be allowed to open their doors “with extreme precaution.” Gyms and personal service businesses such as hair salons can also reopen on the same day. Social distancing protocols must still be observed, according to the state’s moderate risk guidelines.

The wearing of masks will not only protect us from contracting the virus; it will also prevent us from spreading it to anyone else. We have to keep in mind that not every COVID-19 carrier exhibits symptoms, which means that we never really know who has it.

Let’s take social distancing protocols and stay-at-home directives seriously. These may seem like small actions, but by following these rules, we are helping in slowing the spread of the virus and saving the lives of others.

Office of Gov. Gary Herbert

The last few months have been challenging and devastating for many families, especially for those who lost their loved ones to it. COVID-19 has taken so much away – jobs, education, lives – but we can’t let it take away what we instrinsically have as humans – our heart and hope.

We all want this to be over, and the only way we can achieve that is if we cooperate with our leaders and do our part as responsible citizens.

Here is a video that will show you how to make a CDC-recommended cloth face mask without a sewing machine or scissors: