Report from the Senate

Ralph Okerlund, Senator

We’ve now been in the orange or “moderate risk” phase of the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan for a little over one week, and we’ve seen many businesses begin to reopen while following essential health precautions. Gov. Herbert issued an executive order clarifying guidelines in the moderate and low-risk phases of the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan.

Like most of my constituents, I look forward to the days of baseball, softball and spring sports. I encourage our local health leaders to push the State Health Department and Governor to open our economy even more. I believe that as individuals we can make good decisions as to whether we participate or not. Those of us who are more vulnerable should certainly be more careful and those who are sick should stay home always. 

The Utah Department of Health reported 150,085 tests administered, 6,362 positive cases, 517 total hospitalizations and 68 fatalities as of May 11. We have reduced the transmission rate in Utah for COVID-19 to 1:1.

The state’s robust testing has received accolades across the United States. According to a Harvard Global Health Institute analysis, Utah is one of only nine states with the testing capacity needed to safely reopen. Our state fatality rate is just under one percent, which is one of the lowest in the nation. This is encouraging news, but we must all continue to do our part to maintain the progress we’ve made so we can continue moving forward together. 

For the small business owners in my district, the state launched the “PPE Push Pack” program to support small businesses in the “moderate risk” phase of the Utah Leads Together 2.0 plan. The program provides a free week’s supply of PPE to help small businesses get back to work.

While this pandemic has brought numerous struggles for each of us, I am proud to be a Utahn. I have watched our community work through this pandemic the Utah way – through collaboration, hard work, innovation and compassion. I am truly touched by the many Utahns constantly looking for ways to serve others — from sewing millions of masks for “Project Protect” to donating supplies and money for student lunches.

Within the last week, we have celebrated both Teacher Appreciation Week and Nurse Appreciation Week. I can think of no two groups more deserving of our appreciation at this time! Our educators have worked hard to adapt to remote learning and connect with their students and have done a tremendous job. I know many teachers and administrators have demonstrated great innovation and love for our students by finding special ways to recognize our graduating seniors. Thank you, educators, for all of your outstanding work. Our nursing staff has been on the front line for many weeks now working hard while somehow still maintaining a “can do” attitude. It is a tremendous sacrifice for them to leave their families each day and go to work to help fight this virus, but they continue to show up, work hard and provide caring, essential service. Thank you, nurses, for all of your work. 

What do you think?

I hope to continually keep you informed about my work on the Hill – likewise, please keep in touch – I’d love to hear your insights and opinions. I can also be reached by email at rokerlund@le.utah.gov. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve in this capacity. We live in a unique and special place. Thank you for all you do to make Utah the best state in the nation – and thanks for paying attention.

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