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PM News Brief: Free Lunch, Newborns & A Boy Scout Merger

Photo of lunch room.
Wikimedia Commons
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The Utah State Board of Education is looking for a workaround so schools can still provide lunches even if the new coronavirus forces closures. This story and more in the Tuesday evening news brief.

Tuesday evening, March 10, 2020

State

Mental Health Outreach

A bill expanding an alternative response system for mental health crises passed the Utah legislature Tuesday. The state has set aside more than $16 million in its draft budget to fund the bill. Usually, when someone has a mental health crisis, they’re taken in an ambulance to an emergency room, which mental health advocates say can make that crisis worse. This bill expands an existing alternative system of mental health hotlines, mobile outreach teams and specialized mental health receiving centers. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Safe Haven For Newborns

The Utah State Legislature has unanimously passed a bill that amends the Newborn Safe Haven law, allowing someone to drop-off an unwanted, newborn baby at the hospital for up to 30 days after its birth without question. Under current law, babies have to be dropped off within 72 hours of birth. Proponents say it gives people with unplanned pregnancies more options. — Sonja Hutson

Second Case Of Coronavirus In Utah

Health officials announced Utah’s second confirmed case of the coronavirus Tuesday morning. The patient is older than 60 and from the Weber-Morgan area. They may have been exposed while traveling outside the state and U.S. and currently in serious, but stable condition. Nearly 100 people in Utah have been tested so far but only two have come back positive. Health officials are also actively monitoring another 100 people who have returned from high-risk countries and cruises and been asked to self-quarantine for two weeks. Joseph Miner with the health department says the risk of getting coronavirus is still low here, but encourages precautions like frequent hand washing and avoiding travel and contact with other people when sick. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Looking For Free Lunch Contingency Plan

The Utah State Board of Education is looking for a workaround so schools can still provide lunches even if the new coronavirus forces closures. The board asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide four waivers, which would give schools a number of options in feeding students. They could offer grab and go lunches, use locations other than schools to provide those lunches and would have more flexibility in what food they could offer. The board said it hopes the situation doesn’t get bad enough to need the waivers but that it wants to be prepared. — Grace Osusky

Northern Utah

Utah Boy Scout Council Merger

The Boy Scouts of America in Utah voted to merge the state’s three separate councils into one. The new Crossroads of the West Council will be headquartered in Ogden. Scout Councils are made up of volunteers that direct the operations, organization and activities of scouts, including Scout properties and camps. A release stated the move is not in response to the Boy Scouts of America’s recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Instead, they say the existing councils decided on the merger to make Utah’s scouting more efficient and sustainable. — Grace Osusky

Region

Search For A COVID-19 Vaccination

Teams around the world are racing to help develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus. That includes a few labs in the Mountain West, like a group at Colorado State University. And scientists at a national lab in Montana are also contributing to the vaccine race by trying to identify which animal best mimics human COVID-19 infection. Vaccines often take a decade or more to develop. Public health officials say a vaccine could help with the current outbreak, depending how long it persists, or lay the groundwork for responding to future outbreaks. — Rae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West News Bureau

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