SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Nine rural counties in Utah will move into the green health risk status beginning Friday after recording some of the state's lowest COVID-19 case counts and hospitalization rates, state officials said.
The counties are Beaver, Daggett, Duchesne, Emery, Garfield, Millard, Piute, Uintah and Wayne, KUTV-TV reported.
"The rural lifestyle they enjoy is defined by wider physical distancing, and smaller, less densely populated towns," Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said. "Although no area is completely free from risk, we feel comfortable having these sparsely populated regions transition from yellow to green."
Guidelines under the green "New Normal Risk" phase include the use of face masks in businesses and social settings when distancing is not feasible and following federal and local public health precautions, officials said.
The yellow phase included decreased group sizes for in-person interactions, more strict hygiene standards and cleaning measures, and face masks in public settings.
"As we move from stabilization to recovery, the health guidance in our communities will vary because of differing conditions across the state," Herbert said. "As we re-engage economically, we need greater personal responsibility, not less."
Herbert is expected to release more information.