With Utah Mask’s tenure ending, food delivery drivers must fend for themselves

LEHI – Preston Knutson, 21, is a full-time student at the University of Utah Valley and works as a food delivery boy for DoorDash. On a full day of driving, Knutson can complete up to 50 orders in northern Utah County, working for about 10 hours.

To protect him and his clients from COVID-19, the student was very careful to take appropriate health precautions and made sure to stay on top of the latest recommendations. Staying safe is especially important for Knutson as some of his customers who order might be ordering because they can’t get food in person due to health concerns.

So when Utah’s mask tenure ended on April 10 for much of the state, it became much more difficult to take precautions.

“The mandate of the mask was very important for me to try to prevent myself from contracting the virus because if I contract the virus, of course you know that I have an obligation to immediately get out of DoorDash and wait for the quarantine of two weeks, “he said.

Now, it depends on the company whether or not masks are needed, which means Knutson is at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19. While masks are still needed in Salt Lake City and Grand County, Knutson makes most of his deliveries to Utah County, where masks have been a hot topic since the early days of the pandemic.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky recently said now was not the time to end mask wear, but individuals have always chosen not to take precautions.

Despite research showing that statewide mask warrants are boosting the economy and slowing the spread of the coronavirus, several states have decided to waive their mask warrants in a move that critics are calling premature. Besides Utah, where the mask’s mandate was only in effect from November to April, several other states have also lifted the statewide mask requirement: Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, Kansas and Wisconsin.

Utah businesses are able to implement their own mask requirements, and areas that still have a mandate have experienced conflict with customers. Last week, a man threatened to rape a firearm against a Salt Lake City business following a dispute over the mask.

Gov. Spencer Cox spoke out against the violent threats and said he continues to support businesses in need of masks.

“Utah has a strong tradition of upholding private property rights. Businesses and utilities have the right, by law, to continue to require masks in their establishments if they choose,” said Cox. “We support these efforts and thank all Utahns who respect individual rights and mask requirements wherever they apply.”

Knutson continues to take health measures seriously and remains masked in his car all day to deliver orders to ensure food remains safe and free from the risk of contamination, but he is now interacting with more and more people. individuals without masks in restaurants.

Without a statewide rule, Knutson is forced to rely on individual restaurant restrictions and has noticed that since the mandate was lifted, employees have been less likely to enforce mask policies, likely to avoid confrontation.

“I find the masks uncomfortable,” Knutson said, adding that he felt the short-term discomfort was worth it for his long-term safety for himself and for others.

While it may not be a big deal for some to get COVID-19, such as healthy people working from home, getting COVID-19 is just not an option for Knutson and many. others across the state.

He currently lives with two people at high risk of developing complications if they contract COVID-19, and if tested positive he would be unable to work for a full 14-day quarantine – that means two weeks with no income.

“I can’t afford this now,” he said.

Fortunately, Knutson said he recently received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but would not be fully vaccinated until two weeks after he was able to get his second vaccine.

“I understand you want to have fun; we’ve all been locked up for a year, ”he said. “I just wish people would just take into consideration that not everyone is as lucky as they are, and would take a little discomfort in return for… a lot more certainty for restaurant workers or retail. “

Ultimately, Knutson hopes people will be able to look beyond politics and listen to the advice of experts and health officials who still recommend health precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

“I just wish a lot of people had more empathy,” he said.

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