Mayor Johnson chooses not to release city case counts

Public health officials from the Utah County Department of Health are receiving daily counts of COVID-19 cases and are compiling that data, adding it to daily totals collected for each of Utah’s 29 counties. The mayors of each city in Utah County have received their city case count; most have chosen not to release that data to the public.

Last week, Highland City Mayor Rod Mann released Utah County city data to the Highland City Council, and one of the council members shared it on social media portals. The data did not indicate source references, and some cities were bundled together into localized areas to protect the privacy of people in small communities.

Lehi City Mayor Mark Johnson was questioned as to whether he planned to release Lehi’s COVID-19 case count. “I am choosing not to release the case count, but I am pleased with Lehi’s low per capita case rate,” said Johnson. “Compared to the large cities in Utah County, Lehi has done a great job and the numbers indicate that we have followed the governor’s recommendations.”

Johnson is concerned that releasing specific city-by-city numbers may cause some to be less vigilant with social distancing recommendations and hand-washing protocols. “The numbers we are seeing indicate that our strategy has worked,” said Johnson.

To stress the importance of following health officials’ recommendations, Lehi City officials released videos, created social media posts, posted flyers, and shut down city-operated recreational facilities. Some cities in Utah County, particularly the larger ones, have not closed all city recreational properties. “I’m thankful because our citizens have generally been doing what they’ve been asked to do, and that’s reflected in fewer cases per capita than other cities in the county. I hope that continues,” said Johnson.

Johnson said some have pressured him to release Lehi’s specific case data. “If the numbers are low, people may believe it is okay to relax their behavior. They shouldn’t. If high, it may create unnecessary anxiety. The important thing is to continue to follow the directions from the Governor.”

Johnson mentioned a friend whose parents both died in April of COVID-19 complications. They were not Lehi residents, but both died within a few days of each other. “This is not just the flu,” said Johnson. “We need to stay vigilant.”

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