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AM News Brief: Earthquake Shakes Utah, Utah County COVID-19 Case & Red Cross Calls For Blood

Photo of rubble on sidewalk.
Brian Albers / KUER
A 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit Salt Lake City just after 7 a.m. this morning and has been followed by aftershocks. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, March 18, 2020

Northern Utah

Earthquake Hits Salt Lake City

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit Salt Lake City just after 7 a.m. this morning and has been followed by aftershocks. Mike Hylland with the Utah Geological Survey said the epicenter appears to be just north of Magna. It’s not clear yet how much damage the quakes have caused but throughout the morning, as many as 65,000 homes in the Salt Lake area had lost electricity, according to Rocky Mountain Power. Earthquakes of this size are rare in Utah. The state has only had sixteen earthquakes that were 5.5 or bigger since pioneers arrived in 1847. The last big one happened in St. George almost three decades ago. — Jon Reed

Follow KUER’s coverage of this ongoing story.

Utah County COVID-19 Case

Utah County has reported its first resident case of COVID-19. The county health department said he's an adult male over the age of 18 years old, who likely contracted the virus through community spread. That brings the state total to 52, 10 of whom are out-of-state visitors. Most cases are in Salt Lake and Summit Counties. Bear River Health District, serving Box Elder, Cache and Rich counties, has confirmed its first case of the virus. — Diane Maggipinto

Salt Lake City Business Loans

The Salt Lake City Council tentatively approved a 0% interest loan program for small businesses affected by the coronavirus Tuesday. It came on the same day as federal loans from the Small Business Administration becoming available. Salt Lake City will set aside $1 million on loans for local businesses with less than 50 employees. The maximum loan amount will be $20,000, with the goal of helping at least 50 businesses. The city council is set to officially approve the program next Tuesday, with checks going out as early as next Wednesday morning. — Sonja Hutson

Signature Gathering And Coronavirus

Videos of a man wearing a “Huntsman 2020” shirt appearing to go door-to-door collecting signatures surfaced on Twitter Tuesday night. But Jon Huntsman’s gubernatorial campaign says it has suspended door-to-door activities to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Spokeswoman Lisa Rosskelley says, instead, signature gatherers are only going to households that have said they want to sign. Rosskelley also said the campaign will look into the videos. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Hogle Zoo, Hill Aerospace Museum and Thanksgiving Point Closed

Utah's Hogle Zoo is closed to the public to limit community spread of coronavirus. Officials there say the animal care team will keep a daily schedule at the 89-year-old zoo, with staggered schedules as a precaution. Hill Aerospace Museum and Thanksgiving Point have also closed. — Diane Maggipinto


Red Cross Needs Blood

The Red Cross announced Tuesday that they are facing a severe blood shortage due to the coronavirus outbreak. Across the country more than 27,000 blood drives have been cancelled. Red Cross officials say healthy donors are needed, and they are making sure to keep people safe by spacing beds to practice social distancing and taking people’s temperatures before they donate. Utah’s four locations — Orem, St. George, Salt Lake City, and Layton — are still open for donations. — Grace Osusky

Statewide Restaurant Ban

Starting Wednesday night, all restaurants in Utah must suspend dine-in operations for at least two weeks. The order comes from the state department of health and the coronavirus task force and goes into effect at 11:59 p.m MDT. In a statement, Gov. Gary Herbert said he did not make this decision lightly and apologized for disrupting people’s lives and potentially costing them jobs. But he said the state must take quick action. Salt Lake and Summit counties had already banned restaurants from letting customers dine-in. Take out and delivery service will still be permitted where available. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Skordas To Challenge AG Reyes

Greg Skordas will challenge Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes in the November election. The high-profile Democratic defense attorney announced his campaign Tuesday, shortly after Republican Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said he's entering the race. Reyes has held the job since 2013 and said he has targeted the opioid epidemic, suicide, human trafficking, cybercrime and white-collar fraud. — Associated Press


States Respond To Coronavirus

State governments around the Mountain West are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. A new analysis by the personal finance website WalletHub found some are more aggressive than others. The analysis rated each state on three things. First, prevention and containment of the virus. Second, potential risk factors like the state’s poverty rate and third, the economic impact of the pandemic based on the state’s leading industries and workforce. Other than Utah which ranked at number 15, our region got the least aggressive ranking with Wyoming ranked dead last. — Kamila Kudelska, Mountain West News Bureau

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