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AM News Brief: Robert Garff Hospitalized, Navajo Nation Volunteers & Electronic Signatures In Play

Photo of downtown Salt Lake City.
Brian Albers / KUER
Prominent Utah businessman and philanthropist Robert Garff has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, March 27, 2020


Candidates Get Green Light To Gathering Electronic Signatures

Candidates trying to get on Utah’s June Primary ballots can now gather signatures electronically. The idea is to accommodate social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus. Gov. Gary Herbert issued an executive order Thursday that suspends part of the election law until Utah’s state of emergency is over. The state will still need to verify any signatures gathered electronically. — Sonja Hutson

State Tax Deadline Extended

The Utah State Tax Commission voted Thursday to extend the tax deadline to July 15 — making returns due at the same time as federal taxes this year. This comes in response to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the extension the state commission passed an emergency rule to waive interest and penalties for companies with late 2019 filings as long they are submitted by the July 15 deadline. Commission Chair John Valentine did encourage those who can file and pay taxes sooner to do so, and the commission said right now both state and federal refunds are being sent back quickly. — Elaine Clark

USU Receives Coronvavirus Research Grant

Researchers at Utah State University will soon begin testing licensed drugs and other treatments on the novel coronavirus. They have been working with the coronavirus strand in test tubes since last month but will now switch to animal testing using mice and genetically modified hamsters. The goal is to see how the virus affects organs and how it responds to certain drugs. The university’s antiviral institute received a $2.5 million grant to do the work. — Grace Osusky

Northern Utah

Prominent Utah Businessman Hospitalized With COVID-19

Prominent Utah businessman and philanthropist Robert Garff has been hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19. Megan Maybee with Ken Garff Automotive group said both he and his wife Katharine were on vacation in Palm Springs when they began experiencing symptoms, and immediately drove back to Salt Lake. They were tested and quarantined in their home and after testing positive, his health deteriorated before he was admitted to the hospital. Robert Garff is Chairman of Garff Enterprises and former Speaker of Utah’s House of Representatives. He also served as Chairman of the Board for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics. — Elaine Clark

Businesses Find New Work During Pandemic

Companies across Utah have been suspending their operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, but some have shifted their production to stay open. A distillery in Ogden is making hand sanitizer and an awning company in Salt Lake has shifted to making face shields and masks. Read the full story. — Jessica Lowell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.


Navajo Nation Volunteers Step In

Indian Country could be hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. There’s already been at least one spike on the Navajo Nation. But volunteers are stepping up to help this vulnerable community. A go-fund-me page has raised over $167,000 to buy bulk groceries for what has essentially become a food bank and delivery service for the remote Navajo Nation. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Recreation Counties Hit By COVID-19

Recreation-based counties have higher rates of COVID-19 than other rural counties. That's according to an analysis from the Daily Yonder, a non-profit publication that focuses on rural issues. A number of national parks have closed their gates because of the pandemic including Grand Teton in Wyoming, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and Yellowstone. Zion National Park in Utah is closing its campgrounds as well as part of one popular trail. — Cooper McKim, Mountain West News Bureau

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