Local commissioners declare mask mandate over in Kane County; state says not so fast

Stock photo. | Photo by JJ Gouin, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Kane County Commission has declared that the state’s mask mandate requiring face coverings in public settings is no longer valid there. However, spokespeople for the state’s department of health and Gov. Spencer Cox said the mask mandate still remains in effect in all Utah counties, including Kane County.

Kanab Balloons and Tunes Roundup Festival, Kanab, Utah, Feb. 14, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Stark, St. George News

The three members of the Kane County Commission did not respond to request for comment from St. George News. However, in making the announcement Friday night, the commission released a joint statement.

“We’ve recognized that a state-wide, one-size-fits-all approach isn’t suitable and has even been detrimental. We also recognize the need to protect our freedoms. As of Friday, March 19th, masks are not required in Kane County,” the commission said in the statement. “However, we respect individual choice to wear them or not. We trust the citizens and visitors of Kane County to measure risk and make decisions based on their own health and circumstances. We trust the business owners to take care of their customers with appropriate and reasonable health guidelines.”

The move runs contrary to a state of Utah order that has been in place since November requiring face coverings in all public indoor and outdoor spaces when distancing is not possible.

That statewide mandate is required to end on April 10 under a bill passed by the Utah Legislature in its recent session. The governor has yet to sign the bill but says he plans to in the next week, citing a veto-proof majority.

Map shows the current level of each county in Utah according to the COVID-19 Transmission Index provided by the Utah Department of Health as of March 18, 2021. | Photo courtesy Utah Department of Health, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Even so, Rossina Lake, a spokesperson for Cox, said the governor stands by guidance from the Utah Department of Health, which says that the mandate remains until then in all counties and a county does not have authorization to unilaterally declare itself independent of the state mandate.

“By public health order, a statewide mask requirement remains in effect for all counties, regardless of transmission levels,” Tom Hudachko, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Health, told St. George News. “By this point, there should be no debating the effectiveness of masks at preventing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage Kane County residents to continue to wear masks, where appropriate, to protect themselves and other members of their community.

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department, which includes Kane County in its jurisdiction, also said direction from the state government and health department supersedes any from the Kane County Commission.

“We continue to recommend state guidelines be followed,” said David Heaton, spokesperson for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

In their statement, the Kane County commissioners cited being one of the first counties in the state to be declared “green” in June 2020 on the coronavirus risk color rating that was used at the time.

Utah switched to the COVID-19 Transmission Index in October that puts more weight on data than any governmental determination to decide the risk level of contracting COVID-19 in a county. For each of the last four weeks, Kane County has had the worst test positivity rating of any Utah county.

According to the Utah Department of Health, 23.13% of COVID-19 tests administered to Kane County residents in the last seven days have been positive. In comparison, that percentage is 5.40% in Washington County and 2.75% in Iron County.

Chart shows the percentage chance of being exposed to COVID-19 in room with 10 people in certain cities as of March 20, 2021, according to the Georgia Tech biological sciences department. | Background photos by Chris Reed, St. George News, Pixabay; Graphic by Chris Reed, St. George News | Click to enlarge

At the time Kane County was declared green in June 2020, there were a total of four cases and no deaths there. Since then, according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, there have been 664 people who have been infected with the virus and five deaths in a county with a population of 7,484, according to the U.S. Census.

Businesses and retailers with nationwide and statewide reach like Walmart, Smith’s Market, Lin’s Market, Harmons and Target have said they will be continuing mask requirements at their stores in Utah after April 10 regardless of any move made by the state. However, none of those retailers have any reach into Kane County.

The commissioners’ statement also does not mention local schools or the Kane County School District, which has been under a separate, statewide mask mandate for students and staff in schools that was imposed in August. Under the legislation that created the April 10 end to the statewide mask mandate, the Utah requirement for masks in school is slated to continue.

COVID-19 information resources

St. George News has made every effort to ensure the information in this story is accurate at the time it was written. However, as the situation and science surrounding the coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s possible that some data has changed.

Check the resources below for up-to-date information and resources.

Getting the COVID-19 vaccine

  • Those who can currently get first dose of the vaccine: Everyone ages 50 and over ; K-12 teachers and staff; those that work in nonhospital health care facilities (those in clinics, pharmacies, dentists or other medical offices); and first responders, including law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs; Those with the following health conditions – Transplant recipients, having had certain cancers, immunocompromised state including HIV, all forms of kidney disease, all forms of diabetes, obese with a body mass index greater than 30, hepatitis, chronic heart disease, but not high blood pressure, lung disease besides asthma, downs syndrome or cerebral palsy, those who have had strokes or dementia, sickle-cell anemia.
  • Those who can get first dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday: Everyone ages 16 and over. Those 16-18 can only receive the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Those who can receive the second dose: Those who received their first injection 28 days or more before the appointment time.
  • Must register in advance online for an appointment time.
  • Must have a personal ID, employment ID (if necessary) and wear a short-sleeve shirt at appointment.
  • Proof of residency is required, though a person does not have to reside in the county they are receiving the vaccine. Part-time residents can get vaccinated with proof of residency.
  • Vaccines are free of charge.
  • Those without email addresses or unable to make reservations online can get help at a specialized hotline at 435-986-2549.
  • To get alerts for when new vaccine appointments are added with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, text SWUHEALTH to 888777.

Washington County:

Where: St. George Active Life Center, 245 N. 200 West, St George

Reservations: Click to register 

Iron County:

Where: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Wedgewood Lane, 2015 N Wedgewood Lane, Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register 

Kane County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Kanab office, 445 N. Main St., Kanab.

Reservations: Click to register 

Garfield County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Panguitch office, 601 Center St., Panguitch.

Reservations: Click to register

Beaver County:

Where: Southwest Utah Public Health Department Beaver Office,  75 1175 North, Beaver.

Reservations: Click to register

St. George Regional Hospital/Intermountain Healthcare:

Where: 400 East Campus St. George Regional Hospital,  544 S. 400 East, St. George.

Reservations: Click to register

FourPoints Health:

Where: Various locations.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 745 N Dixie Dr in St. George and 915 Red Cliffs Dr. in Washington City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 1189 E. 700 South in St. George and 3520 Pioneer Parkway in Santa Clara.

Reservations: Click to register

Smith’s Food and Drug:

Where: 20 N. Bluff St. and 565 S. Mall Drive in St. George and 633 S. Main St. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register


Where: 625 W. Telegraph St. in Washington City, 180 N. 3400 West in Hurricane and 1330 S. Providence Center Dr. in Cedar City.

Reservations: Click to register

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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