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AM News Brief: Robert Garff Dies Of COVID-19, Navajo Nation Curfew & Fire Season

Photo of Bob Garff.
Courtesy Garff Industries
Prominent Utah businessman and philanthropist Robert Garff died Sunday due to complications from COVID-19. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, March 30, 2020


Governor Signs 151 Bills

Gov. Gary Herbert signed 151 bills over the weekend. They included a ban on all elective abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, a decriminalization of polygamy also got the governor’s approval, and a bill aimed at moving the state away from its reliance on cash bail. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Tuition Fee Hikes

Students at seven of Utah's public universities will face higher tuition over the next year after a nearly unanimous vote from the Utah System of Higher Education. Despite statewide campus closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, college presidents say the increase is needed mostly to pay for already-promised raises for faculty and staff. Utah State University’s three satellite campuses will have the highest percentage tuition hikes. Southern Utah University is the only institution that will not raise tuition. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

COVID-19 Update

The number of COVID-19 cases in Utah rose to 719 over the weekend, according to the Utah Department of Health. Salt Lake and Summit Counties remain the state’s biggest hotspots. But cases are now cropping up in rural Utah, too. Since Friday, Grand, Garfield, San Juan and Uintah Counties have all reported their first cases of COVID-19. — David Fuchs

DMV Lobbies Closed

The Utah Department of Motor Vehicles has closed all of its lobbies across the state in response to Governor Gary Herbert’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” directive issued Friday. Some drive-through services are available in Salt Lake, South Valley, Farmington, Ogden and Hurricane, but the department is encouraging drivers to renew their vehicle registrations online. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Robert Garff Dies Of COVID-19

Prominent Utah businessman and philanthropist Robert Garff died Sunday due to complications from COVID-19. It’s the third death related to the virus in Utah. Garff and his wife Katharine both tested positive after returning from vacation in Palm Springs. The couple self-quarantined, and he was admitted to the hospital last week after his condition deteriorated. The 78-year-old was Chairman of Ken Garff Automotive Group but wore many hats throughout his career. He was also a former Speaker of the Utah House and a leader in bringing the 2002 Olympic Winter Games to the state. — David Fuchs

Salt Lake City Order

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued a sixth emergency proclamation Sunday, repealing Friday’s to align with a public health order from Salt Lake County Health Department. The new proclamation lets city residents park at meters for free and without time limits to allow downtown dwellers to stay at home without having to move vehicles. The proclamation also extends recent measures that limit entrance to Salt Lake City International Airport. — Diane Maggipinto

McAdams Released From Hospital

Utah Congressman Ben McAdams was released from the hospital over the weekend. He had been admitted for roughly a week after experiencing severe shortness of breath related to COVID-19. — David Fuchs

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Southern Utah

New Park Closures

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks closed indefinitely on Saturday. The change came three days after the Southeast Utah Health Department requested a closure of the parks — and one day after Gov. Gary Herbert issued a directive to Utahns to stay at home. Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks remain open, with park officials working closely with local, state and federal agencies to monitor the public health risk. — David Fuchs


Navajo Nation Curfew

Residents living on the Navajo Nation are under curfew. On Saturday, President Jonathan Nez ordered the restriction for the hours of 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. as the number of cases of Covid-19 jumped to 115. Two deaths have been confirmed, according to Navajo Times, and there are two confirmed cases on the reservation in San Juan County, Utah. The number of cases more than quadrupled since last weekend, and Nez blames that on people not staying home. — Diane Maggipinto

Fire Season And Coronavirus

The Forest Service is preparing for wildfire season and the coronavirus. The agency has already put a stop to prescribed burns during the crisis. Because firefighters work and live in close proximity, social distancing is a challenge. But the Forest Service says wildland firefighting is critical work that will continue with guidance from the CDC. — Amanda Peacher, Mountain West News Bureau

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