SALT LAKE CITY — As coronavirus deaths increase, Utah officials started using an emergency alert system Friday, April 10, to send text messages to drivers entering the state, asking them to report any virus symptoms and a recent travel history.
Initially, the executive order enacting this plan included commercial vehicle drivers. The state has now declared truck drivers exempt from the system. Hundreds of thousands of truckers enter the state each day carrying essential supplies for grocery stores and medical facilities.
Paul Enos, CEO of the Nevada Trucking Association, said the system could interrupt interstate trips and be invasive to drivers who sometimes travel through multiple states a day.
Utah officials have said they aren’t punishing people who don’t fill out the online form.
“We don’t want to do anything to inhibit commerce … especially right now with our supply-chain issues,” Utah Public Safety Commissioner Jess Anderson said.
At the time of this report, truckers were still expected to receive the message and there were no immediate plans to change the wording on the form to list the exemptions, which also included police, border residents, and airline personnel and passengers.
The program went into effect as the number of coronavirus deaths in Utah rose by four, to 17. The latest victims were all men over 60, and two were nursing home residents in Salt Lake County. The total number of virus cases topped 2,000 in Utah.