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AM News Brief: Moroni’s Trumpet, New State Executive Orders & First Day Of Spring

Photo of angel Moroni on top of the LDS Temple that shows the missing trumpet.
Brian Albers/KUER
The golden statue of angel Moroni that sits on top of the Salt Lake Temple's highest spire lost its trumpet in Wednesday's 5.7 magnitude earthquake.

Thursday morning, March 19, 2020

First Day of Spring At Hovenweep

Today brings the earliest first-day-of-spring in 124 years. The vernal equinox is official at 9:50 p.m. MDT. On this day, the sun rises nearly due east and sets due west.

At Hovenweep National Monument on the Utah and Colorado border, the Sun Room's two windows bring in a shaft of light four days after the equinox. According to NASA, researchers believe that thousands of years ago when the Hovenweep Castle was built, the architecture was part of a solar calendar. Though Hovenweep is open with limited services, the visitor center closed Wednesday until further notice. — Diane Maggipinto

STATE

COVID-19 Update

Utah's COVID-19 case count is now at 63, confirmed by state health department officials, and reflects 53 residents and 10 visitors. Officials said Wednesday that more than 12,000 people in the state have been tested. Work at the Utah Public Health Laboratory was interrupted because of the earthquake. The lab has been cleared to resume analyzing coronavirus samples Thursday. — Diane Maggipinto

Governor’s New Executive Orders

Gov. Gary Herbert issued three executive orders Wednesday to adjust government functions and accommodate social distancing. To help lessen the burden of now-closed establishments with liquor licenses, one order expedites returns of product to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. A second order now allows for the public to view Board of Pardons and Parole hearings remotely. A third will allow public meetings to be conducted electronically. — Diane Maggipinto

U Studies Coronavirus Strain

Researchers at the University of Utah are studying how humidity and temperature affect the coronavirus strain responsible for COVID-19. The tests will be done on a synthetic replica of the virus, meaning it can’t replicate or infect people. Researchers say this will help public health officials understand how a change in seasons will affect the spread of the virus. But they caution this isn’t a vaccine and won’t solve the crisis. Instead, it’ll help people make informed policy decisions. — Grace Osusky

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

NORTHERN UTAH

“Extremely Bad Timing” — Reactions To Quake And Virus

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck the Wasatch Front Wednesday morning as the state continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. It has made already anxious Utahns even more anxious. — Sonja Hutson

“Designer” Earthquake

The earthquake that happened Wednesday a few miles outside of Magna led to dozens of aftershocks. There were no major injuries reported, but some bricks fell from a vacant building in downtown Salt Lake City, power outages lasted for the better part of the day and store shelves were wrecked. But there wasn’t any serious structural damage. That’s why Bob Carey with the Utah Division of Emergency Management referred to it as his “designer earthquake.” It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Carey hoped this would come, because it was just the right size to get people’s attention and push them to make sure buildings are up to code. He says it’s a little too early to dive into lessons learned from the Magna quake, but as they continue to survey for damage, they expect to see more of it closer to the epicenter. — Ross Terrell

Inspections Mean Continued Road Closures

Some west lanes on Magna's Main Street — 8400 West at 2700 South —are closed northbound according to Utah Dept of Transportation officials. Also, both directions of SR-201 closed between 8000 West and SR-202. I-80 and SR-202 are open. UDOT says motorists traveling from Tooele County should expect heavier than normal delays for Thursday morning’s commute. Teams of inspectors scrutinized 520 bridges in the earthquake zone. Of those, UDOT said just one was damaged. The on-ramp from Union Park to the westbound I-215 belt will remain closed until crews take a closer look. UDOT says the ramp may not open until Monday. Utah Transit Authority says TRAX and Frontrunner are back to regular speeds and schedules. — Diane Maggipinto

Moroni’s Trumpet

Wednesday’s 5.7 magnitude earthquake caused some noticeable damage at Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. Angel Moroni lost his trumpet. The 12 foot tall golden statue sits on top of the Salt Lake Temple’s highest spire and is usually holding a long trumpet. But Wednesday morning the trumpet fell off due to the most severe earthquake in Utah since 1992. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints confirmed the damage, which comes as the temple is currently closed for 4 years for structural improvements in the case of a major earthquake. — Lee Hale

Follow KUER’s coverage of this ongoing story.

SOUTHERN UTAH

St. George Remembers Last Big Quake

Many Salt Lakers woke up Wednesday to the largest earthquake to hit the state in decades. The last time something like that happened, the epicenter was near St. George. And the year was 1992. No one died, but in nearby Springdale, it triggered a slow-moving landslide that — over the course of a few days — turned a house on its side. — David Fuchs, Mill Valley, CA

REGION

Volunteers Ramp Up

As our region braces for more Coronavirus cases, one community service has become even more vital: Meals on Wheels. There are a lot of seniors who depend on the home-delivered meals that the nonprofit provides. In our region, some Meals on Wheels programs have put a call out for healthy, young people to sign up as volunteers, and so far the response has been strong. To check if your local branch needs volunteers go to mealsonwheelsamerica.orgAmanda Peacher, Mountain West News Bureau

National Park Fees Waived

Entry fees won't be collected at national parks across the country. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt made the decision Thursday to make it easier for people to get outside while social distancing. The Park Service says it’s adhering to the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though park superintendents maintain the power to close or modify operations. But gateway towns such as Moab near Arches National Park and Springdale, host to one entry into Zion National Park, fear they couldn't handle a local outbreak. The towns now have limits on hotel stays, have stopped shuttles and are under a statewide order that bans dining inside restaurants. Visitor centers at several Utah destinations are closed. — Diane Maggipinto

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