Utah Association of Counties moves annual convention online

(Lee Davidson | Tribune file photo) The Utah Association of Counties has canceled its scheduled annual convention in St. George this week and moved the programs entirely online because of the pandemic. Normally about 300 people show up, but this year around 200 had signed up. This Feb. 13, 2015, file photo shows a lunch hosted by the Association in the Rotunda of the state Capitol during the annual legislative session.

The Utah Association of Counties has converted its yearly convention into a virtual event in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The association’s board had been deliberating over what to do about the confab, scheduled for this week in St. George, after Gov. Gary Herbert announced statewide limits on gatherings last week. The event typically attracts about 300 participants each year, although only 200 had registered to attend in person this year.

Herbert’s executive order limits casual gatherings to people who already live together. The UAC convention could have technically complied with the mandate if it enforced mask wearing and social distancing. But, “out of an abundance of caution,” the association’s board and CEO Brandy Grace opted to move things online.

“Our decision comes after thorough debate and thoughtful consideration,” the board and CEO wrote in a statement. “While we are confident that the controls that we planned would have ensured a safe event that fully complies with the Governor’s order, we also want to assure the public that we respect the intent behind the order and want to do our part to help prevent further spread of COVID-19 during this unprecedented surge.”

The UAC message also hinted at the contention that has arisen since the governor, a former president of the association, issued his order. Some county officials have said they will not enforce the mandates.

“As you can imagine, perspectives vary widely across our counties,” the UAC statement said. “These differences make us stronger, broaden our perspectives, and make us better leaders. We appreciate each of you for your unique perspectives.”

The virtual convention will commence on Wednesday and end on Friday, according to a UAC spokesperson.