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Kelly Rindlisbacher, the principal of Nibley Elementary School, has died after a five-week battle with the coronavirus.
The Cache County School District said in a statement Friday night that it was “deeply saddened” by Rindlisbacher’s loss, calling him a “family member, friend, and fellow educator.”
“Kelly was an exceptional, dedicated educator with a long career in our district,” the release continued. “He will be greatly missed by his Cache County School District family.”
The school district had reported last month that Rindlisbacher was improving and that it did not believe he had been exposed at school.
News of the principal’s death came on a day when Utah reported no new deaths, and an additional 376 coronavirus cases. The latest report from the Utah Department of Health shows that overall, the state has now seen 43,751 coronavirus infections and a total of 335 fatalities.
Rindlisbacher’s death does not appear to have been added to the state’s tally yet.
Dean Meservy went to high school with Rindlisbacher for a year, when Meservy was a senior and Rindlisbacher was a sophomore. Meservy remembered the Rindlisbacher family as nice, but his most telling memory of Rindlisbacher came about 20 years ago, after Rindlisbacher became the bishop at Meservy’s mother’s Latter-day Saint ward.
Meservy said he moved to Europe and had come back to visit his mother, who was recovering from a stroke, when he found Rindlisbacher mowing her lawn in the extreme summer heat.
It must have been 105 degrees that day, Meservy said. Rindlisbacher was dripping with sweat.
“And,” Meservy said, “I thought that was extremely neighborly of him to be watching out for her.”
Meservy said he was impressed because bishops are so busy, and Rindlisbacher took time to pay Meservy’s mother extra attention.
As of Saturday, the state’s seven-day rolling average of cases — a key indicator watched by public health officials — now stands at 426 per day. Gov. Gary Herbert this week set a goal of getting that to 400 by Sept. 1.
Active hospitalizations have decreased by seven and stand at 195 overall. And the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units is now at 77, which is the lowest it has been in a month. Since the beginning of the outbreak, a total 2,604 people have been hospitalized.
Utah Sen. Deidre Henderson tweeted Saturday that she had tested positive for COVID-19, after revealing Friday that two of her immediate family members had contracted the coronavirus and that she was also starting to experience symptoms.
“No big surprise, my COVID test came back positive,” she wrote. “Stay safe out there, everyone. Wear your masks to protect others — by the time you have symptoms you’ve already been contagious for a couple of days and could have unknowingly infected other people.”
Henderson, who is the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor on the ticket with the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, is one of several state lawmakers who have come down with COVID-19.
Sen. Luz Escamilla came down with the disease shortly after the state’s legislative session wrapped up in March. And state Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Riverton, said late last month that she, her husband and her 16-month-old son had contracted coronavirus and were recovering from home.
Of those who have been infected, 33,115 Utahns are considered “recovered,” meaning they were diagnosed more than three weeks ago and have not died.
Herbert, who has so far resisted a statewide mask mandate, announced Saturday that he was extending an executive order requiring face masks in state facilities through Aug. 20 after determining it was an appropriate measure “to protect public health.”
That measure appears to have a limited scope, with the executive order noting it does not include prisons or community correctional centers, or any building or structure that is “owned, leased, occupied or controlled by” the legislative or judiciary branches or the offices of the attorney general, state auditor or state treasurer.
State government entities do have the ability to refuse to provide in-person service to anyone who does not wear a mask, but only if there’s a different means of service available and employees outline how to access it and are sure the person has reasonable access to the alternative.
Reporter Paighten Harkins contributed to this article.