Unified Command for Coronavirus Response
Utah has established a unified command at the State Emergency Operations Center at the State Capitol. This is where the state gathers the most critical players in the same room to make sure the government is working as efficiently as possible.
Right now, those critical players are the Utah Department of Health, supported by DPS’s Division of Emergency Management. We also have the National Guard, Department of Public Safety, State Purchasing, Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, and more partners both working in person and remotely.
DPS Commissioner Jess Anderson has been asked by Governor Herbert to lead the unified command.
Level 1 Activation
The State Emergency Operations Center is currently activated to a Level 1 – Full Activation.
Level 1 means that the state is using resources from most state agencies in response to an incident. In this case, Utah experienced an earthquake in the middle of a pandemic. So state agencies are responding to multiple incidents.
A Level 1 activation gives us the greatest flexibility to use what resources are needed from state government on behalf of our residents. Governor Herbert is expecting to make a request for a major disaster declaration to the President of the United States related to the effects and expenses of coronavirus in Utah.
Three Objectives for the Unified Response
Governor Herbert outlined three objectives for the unified response.
Governor Herbert issued a Stay Safe, Stay Home directive to all Utahns on Thursday, March 26, 2020. The directive includes specific instructions for all individuals, as well as high-risk individuals (60 years and older and those with serious underlying medical conditions), and children. The directives regarding hygiene, gatherings, travel, and outdoor recreation were effective immediately.
Current objectives for the unified response with regard to health include the following
- Increased testing
- Finding and deploying PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
- Planning for hospital surge/quarantine/overflow
Governor Herbert and his team developed The Utah Leads Together economic response plan, which recognizes the value of facing uncertainty with a dynamic, data-informed, and unified plan. It gives structure and order, to what can otherwise be an unclear and difficult reality.The plan conveys three phases of response: urgent, stabilization, and recovery.
Information and Communication
The unified command will continue the coordinated effort to share information and provide education to all stakeholders involved.
Public outreach includes social media, billboards, press conferences, paid ads and more. It features a website dedicated to information about coronavirus in Utah as well as the utilization of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Daily briefings are held for the news media and public and are broadcast live.
The following are some of the projects and initiatives the unified command has been working on together
- Communicating with and bringing home the 37 Utahns from the Grand Princess cruise ship.
- Identifying and securing possible quarantine sites.
- Constantly communicating with the public to remind them why we need to continue the practice of social distancing.
- Arranging for personal protective equipment donations.
- Coordinating among state and local partners. The response to a pandemic requires a great deal of internal coordination and many meetings.
- Identifying emergency funding sources.
- Arranging for American Sign Language interpreting at press conferences.
- Translating public materials and documents into Spanish and various other languages spoken in Utah, especially by our refugee community.
- Providing advice to private sector businesses.
- The Utah Department of Health and its epidemiologists continue tracking the spread of the disease and providing updates and projections so we can make good policy decisions.
- Mother Nature decided to give us an earthquake on March 18 and we teamed up with the Utah Geological Survey to create earthquakes.utah.gov while responding to hundreds of comments and questions on social media.