Join Now

Utah Life Sciences News & Events

Governor Herbert Releases Utah Leads Together Plan Volume IV; Economic Response Task Force Report “Utah Rising” Includes Life Sciences

June 19, 2020

On June 16, Governor Herbert released Volume IV of the Utah Leads Together plan, which presents Utah’s economic recovery and revitalization plan, using a 100, 250, and 500-day time horizon. Volumes I, II, and III of the Utah Leads Together plan presented economic phases, color-coded health guidance, instructions for high-risk individuals, recommendations from Utah’s multi-cultural communities, and initial plans for Utah’s “next” economy. The various economic phases have been defined as urgent, stabilization, and recovery. The majority of the state is currently in the stabilization or “yellow” phase, nearing the full economic recovery or “green” phase.

In the plan’s letter to fellow Utahns, Governor Herbert states “we anticipate that COVID-19 case counts will rise in our state as we continue to reactivate the economy. However, through rigorous testing, contact tracing, and targeted intervention, we plan to manage those cases. Our focus will be on preparation, transmission rates, and health care capacity…”. High-risk individuals will continue to be a priority, even as the state embraces a reopening. Recently, Utah has experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases. According to Dr. Angela Dunn, the top epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, before May 28, the state averaged 150 new cases per day. Since then, there has been an average of 300 per day.

One component of the plan includes recommendations from the Finance Committee of the Utah Economic Response Task Force titled, “Utah Rising: Initiatives for a Broad & Rapid Economic Revival.” The recommendations complement the Utah Leads Together plan and offer initiatives in the following categories:

  • Agriculture and rural
  • Tech grant program
  • Business investment fund
  • Employee recruitment
  • Infrastructure
  • Rental assistance
  • Reopening of schools
  • Tourism
  • Healthcare
  • Air quality
  • Arts and culture
  • Credit for small businesses

The tech grant and healthcare initiatives are of particular interest to Utah’s life sciences industry. The healthcare initiative includes recommendations to identify Utah companies that can shorten the supply chains for medical supplies and ramp up opportunities for Utah companies to serve as suppliers for the future.

The tech grant initiative includes recommendations to fund private sector use of core facilities at higher education institutions. This section of “Utah Rising” highlights the role of the state and the value of our industry, stating that “a key driver of Utah’s success over the past 20 years has been the development of devices and products by entrepreneurs that flowered into major enterprises…as a result, a relatively small upfront investment, along with university collaboration, can open the way for creating a major employer in Utah with well-paid jobs and economic ripple effects. The unprecedented demands the coronavirus crisis is placing on the diagnostics, medical device and pharmaceutical industries in particular opens new opportunities…the state can play a key role.” 

“Support for early-stage life sciences companies has always been a priority for BioUtah,” said Kelvyn Cullimore, president and CEO of BioUtah. “We’ll be working with the Economic Response Task Force and the Finance Committee to ensure that economic recovery strategies recognize the potential of our industry to help lead job creation, as well as innovate to fight COVID-19. Furthermore, as the state looks to refine its ‘key sector’ approach, life sciences should certainly rank among the top contenders.” 

Threaded throughout the plan is the message that even as we reactivate the economy, protecting public health is a priority. This includes making sure that both the public and employers follow health guidelines and adopt broad-based practices, such as social distancing, wearing masks, and the use of personal protective equipment for workers where appropriate.

In that vein, the plan references the Stay Safe to Stay Open pledge developed by the Salt Lake Chamber that outlines simple ways businesses can remain safe and remain open. The plan also notes that guidance to employers is available and encourages a framework sequenced by:

  1. Protect your operations,
  2. Protect your worksite,
  3. Protect your employees,
  4. Keeping your business open if an employee is exposed to or tests positive for COVID-19.

The overall goal is to protect high-risk populations and effectively address COVID-19 transmission within certain business activities.