By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Utah officials want to keep the bug out of the Beehive State, and so to quell coronavirus, they’re asking folks crossing the border to fill out a health questionnaire. It all started April 9 when the state’s governor cranked out an order for it to all happen.
And happen it did! If you crossed into Utah by one of many major highway entry points, including I-15 from Arizona or I-84 from Idaho, and several other entries, your Emergency Alert equipped smartphone may have cranked out that ominous tone that signals imminent destruction. In this case, the signal was accompanied with a message, giving you a link to follow to fill out a health questionnaire.
The trouble is, it worked too well. Folks who weren’t even close to border entry points were getting this nagging message and, in turn, started nagging state officials to lay off. They have. As of April 13, the Emergency Alert System was turned off for these notices, and now drivers of all sorts will see flashing alert signs beside the highways and interstates asking them to log onto the appropriate website and fill out the form. While there’s no penalty for failure to fill out the e-form, the Governor says “good citizens” will surely want to comply.
What’s on the questionnaire and what does it do? In Utah’s own words, “These are extraordinary times, and Utah is taking extraordinary measures. The declaration form requests basic information about health status and travel, and the program serves to inform travelers about public orders and directives in Utah. It does not place any restrictions on travel, and drivers will not be stopped. This is an effort to stay aware of people in Utah who might be at risk for spreading COVID-19.”
“Basic information about health status,” does include a rundown on symptoms that might point to respondents who could possibly have coronavirus. For those that do indicate such symptoms, Utah health officials will indeed contact them and see to it that they are put in appropriate quarantine. So a heads-up: If you’ve got the symptoms, common sense would say you’ve already isolated yourself, and you won’t be traveling through Utah, or anyplace else. If you’re a society-safety-scoffer, be prepared when entering Utah. You may end up staying there longer than you intended.
Is anyone exempt from filling out the questionnaire? Yes: commercial truck drivers, emergency service folks, airline employees, but NOT RVers, unless of course you fall into those other categories. At this point, the questionnaire will be mandated for fill-out until May 1. The order applies to all who are over 18, and should be filled out within three hours of entering Utah.