Utah State Senator Says Economic Consequences of Coronavirus May Create ‘More Suffering’ Than Virus Itself

Senator Kirk Cullimore represents Utah's 9th district.
Senator Kirk Cullimore

State Senator Kirk Cullimore, a Republican from Utah’s 9th district, which oversees Salt Lake County, wrote that he is encouraging people to take “reasonable precautions."

As Utah's number of COVID-19 cases climbed rapidly last week a state senator there told constituents “the economic consequences of this health crisis may create more suffering and devastation than the health crisis itself,” an email of the communication shows.

State Senator Kirk Cullimore, a Republican from Utah’s 9th district which oversees Salt Lake County, wrote to voters Friday that he is encouraging people to take “reasonable precautions,” yet never stated what those precautions would be. 

He also added to “continue to participate in the economy. Continue to work if you can; continue to solicit businesses as much as normal - even if by take-out, online, or with minimal contact; and, continue to support the arts with donations, subscriptions, continuing lessons, etc.”

At the time of Cullimore's email, there were around 100 confirmed cases in Utah. By Monday, the number of confirmed cases had surpassed 181.

There are currently over 30,000 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. The country has experienced over 400 deaths. The Center for Disease Control states that the “best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus.” 

President Trump on Sunday echoed Cullimore's sentiments, stating on Twitter that at the end of a 15-day period, he will decide "which way we want to go," presumably in reference to next steps to combat the virus. "We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself," he wrote. 

This is in contrast to what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly said in that normal life and society will pause for a few more weeks. He also has repeatedly emphasized the importance of social distancing. 

The CDC says to stay home if you are sick and practice social distancing in public, as well as washing your hands frequently. 

Cullimore, who was an attorney prior to being elected senator, categorized the pandemic as a "brief crisis," and said "city and state government doing its part to clean and sanitize public places, but business owners are going above and beyond to ensure their places of business and public accommodation are clean as well.”

Practicing or encouraging social distancing was not mentioned in Cullimore's email, but the senator did note unemployment benefits as well as low-interest loans to businesses and people of the state are available.

“As we all continue to do our part, we can continue to support each other through healthy habits and through our economic activity,” the email said.

On Friday, state epidemiologist Angela Dunn said that at the Utah Department of Health’s daily news briefing “we expect to have more community spread.” She also stressed “staying home when you’re sick.”

“We need to keep people out of the hospital, and as healthy as possible,” Dunn added, “to prevent that surge on our health care system.”

Cullimore’s email came after the state’s governor Gary Herbert repealed the state’s decision to make gatherings of 10 or more people illegal. 

“We call upon all people to act rationally and with the good faith and commonsense that has defined our state and her people since its beginning,” he tweeted. 

Cullimore’s email came on the same day New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose state has become the epicenter of the crisis in America, ordered all residents in his state to remain at home unless absolutely necessary. Among those essential businesses allowed to remain open are pharmacies, hardware stores, farmers markets, gas stations, liquor stores, grocery stores and convenience stores. 

Cuomo has repeatedly stressed for people to practice social distancing, including those at essential business that remain open.  

On Wednesday, Utah Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, both Republican, participated in a vote for a coronavirus relief bill to help give aid to the American people. 

Romney voted for the package, while his colleague, fellow Senator Mike Lee, voted no. 

Lee tweeted after the vote Wednesday defending his decision and referenced famous cartoonist Rube Golberg.

“Unfortunately, this House response bill is Rube Goldberg machine of unfunded mandates and tax benefits that will only end up hurting workers,” he tweeted.

The bill passed 90-8 and was then signed into order by President Trump. 

Senator Cullimore did not respond to InsideEdition.com's request for comment.