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Utah Life Sciences News & Events

Governor Herbert Announces New COVID-19 Transmission Index

October 16, 2020

On Wednesday, Governor Herbert announced the state’s new response plan to COVID-19, effective October 15. This updated plan utilizes a COVID-19 Transmission Index and replaces the previous color-coded guidance system of red, orange, yellow and green. The new approach comes at a time when the state has seen a significant spike in infection rates.

The Transmission Index utilizes certain metrics to calculate the amount of infection and transmission that is occurring in counties throughout the state, and assigns counties a high, moderate or low transmission level. Each level comes with associated guidelines and actionable items for individuals and businesses, including social distancing and mask wearing. Mask-wearing will be required in areas of high transmission, as well as in areas of moderate transmission over the next two weeks.

You can view more detailed information on the Transmission Index and associated guidelines here, and FAQs here.

The three main criteria for determining a county’s transmission level are:

  • 7-day average percent of positive tests – This metric shows the average percent of positive laboratory results over the most recent seven-day period.
  • 14-day case rate per 100,000 people – This metric summarizes the new cases reported over the past 14 days per 100,000 people. It will inform policymakers how quickly a disease is spreading in a given population.
  • Statewide ICU Utilization – This metric is an indication of space available within  Intensive Care Units throughout the state.


Data will be analyzed weekly, and counties will be placed into a transmission level depending solely on what their data show. 

The plan is focused primarily on limiting informal social gatherings. Businesses and organizations that are operating under the provided guidelines are not significantly impacted. The spread of the virus in Utah appears to be generated primarily by social gatherings of families and friends and not participation in school, business or other organized activities conducted under the state guidelines.  

In his announcement, Governor Herbert underscored that these changes center on behavior, noting that Utahns control their own behavior and in turn their own destiny.