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AM News Brief: Drying Groundwater, Family Planning & Coronavirus Quarantine For Traveling Utahns

Dry cheatgrass covers rolling hills.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
A warming climate is threatening groundwater, according to a new study from researchers in Colorado and Arizona. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, Feb. 18, 2020


Utah Considers Extending Family Planning Through Medicaid

A bill to expand family planning coverage to uninsured Utahns through a pre-approved Medicaid waiver is on the Senate Health and Human Services committee agenda Tuesday morning. It is the second time Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, will try to get a favorable recommendation for his bill. Earlier this month, the committee held it after Republican lawmakers voiced concern about the price tag. But Kitchen says his plan would save the state more than $9 million and would prevent 730 abortions a year. Should Utah pass the bill it would join other Western states including Montana and Wyoming in extending family planning coverage to uninsured women. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Hate Crime Testimony

A car repair shop owner in Utah has spoken publicly for the first time about an attack against him, his brother and his son. Jose Lopez testified at the opening of the trial of Alan Dale Covington, charged with hate crimes in the 2018 attack in which he used a metal rod on the family. Lopez says Covington screamed that he wanted to kill a Mexican. Covington has pleaded not guilty to federal hate crimes charges. — Associated Press

Buttigieg Townhall

Lines of people wound around a venue in downtown Salt Lake City ahead of Pete Buttigieg's town hall-style event Monday night. The Indiana mayor who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination switched locations to accommodate the larger-than-expected crowd. Buttigeig supporter Riley Madrien said she has struggled to back other progressive Democratic candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders and that she is looking for a moderate. Utah’s primary is Super Tuesday, March 3. — Diane Maggipinto & Nate Hegyi


Climate Change And Groundwater

A warming climate is threatening groundwater, according to a new study from researchers in Colorado and Arizona. Even modest increases in warming could force plantlife to rely more on shallow supplies of groundwater and deplete them. Researchers say groundwater plays an important role in how water moves through the environment, especially when the system is most stressed for water. The study in the journal “Nature Communications” found that portions of the country not known for water scarcity now could begin seeing shortages due to groundwater depletion. — Luke Runyon, KUNC


Utahns And The Coronavirus

Three more Utahns are hospitalized and in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. The patients were stuck on a cruise ship docked off the coast of Japan for nearly 2 weeks. In her most recent Facebook post, Jerri Jorgensen of St. George says she never felt sick aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship. She is now hospitalized in Fukushima. Her husband Mark Jorgensen is now at a U.S. Air Force base in California in quarantine, after getting a lift by U.S. transport on Sunday. Tooele couple Melanie and John Haering were on the same cruise ship. John was removed and taken to a hospital in Japan last week after a positive test for the virus, and now has pneumonia. — Diane Maggipinto

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