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PM News Brief: SNAP Benefits, Uranium Stockpile & Hydroxychloroquine Purchase

Photo of Gary Herbert speaking into a microphone
Pool Photo
Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert speaks during the daily COVID-19 briefing at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 24, 2020.

Friday evening, April 24, 2020

STATE

Utah Legislators Target COVID-19 In Minority Communities 

Six Utah lawmakers announced a new program Friday to address the disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases in underserved communities. More than 40% of COVID-19 cases in the state have been from minorities. The new data-driven program will use Community Health Workers to bridge any language and cultural barriers. The lawmakers are hoping to make testing more accessible in these communities. — Jessica Lowell

Four More COVID-19 Deaths

Utah health officials announced four more COVID-19 related deaths Friday bringing the state’s total to 39. Three of the four people were living in long term care facilities, while the fourth person had underlying health conditions. Nearly 85,000 Utahns have been tested for the coronavirus and there have now been more 3,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Utah’s epidemiologist said people should still be practicing social distancing and washing their hands often. — Ross Terrell

Utah Increases SNAP Benefits

Some people who get SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, may now be eligible for more help. Utah’s Department of Workforce Services recently announced anyone who normally gets less than the maximum amount for their household size can now make up that difference. That means a family of four making $33,000 a year will get just under $650 a month. People already receiving the maximum amount will not be eligible for additional funds. The first supplemental payments will be released this weekend. — Jon Reed

Governor Casts Doubt On Hydroxychloroquine Purchase

Gov. Gary Herbert said he did not know about the state’s $800,000 order of a controversial and unproven drug to treat COVID-19: hydroxychloroquine. Herbert announced Friday his attorneys will be conducting a legal review of the purchase. And that the state doesn’t have possession of the drugs yet. The Utah Department of Health said it’s pausing efforts to buy doses of hydroxychloroquine for 200,000 patients as it sorts through legal requirements imposed by the Food and Drug Administration. — Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

NORTHERN UTAH

Redwood Drive-In Planned Opening Canceled

The Redwood Drive-In Theatre in West Valley City has postponed opening for its summer season after being ordered by the Salt Lake County Health Department to shut down. The Redwood planned to start its summer season Friday night. Hundreds of people commented on a Facebook post earlier this week by the theatre announcing the opening. Some patrons were excited to see a movie on a big screen again, but others had questions about how ticket sales, concessions and public restrooms would operate within social distancing guidelines. The Salt Lake County Health Department then weighed in, saying opening would violate public health orders. — Caroline Ballard

SOUTHERN UTAH

Moab Creates Rental Assistance Fund

Residents and officials in Moab set up a new rental assistance fund to help people who were laid off due to COVID-19. Moab’s Multicultural Center’s clients have deferred nearly $20,000 in rent since the virus’ outbreak in early March. Now, the center and local officials want to raise $50,000 for a housing relief fund. The fund launched on Wednesday and has raised over $5,000 so far. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Trump Urges Uranium Stockpile

A national nuclear energy plan supported by a uranium mining company with assets in Utah has been released by the Department of Energy. In it, a working group created by President Donald Trump recommended the U.S. buy $150 million of domestic uranium to stockpile. Trump has included the money in his 2021 budget request to Congress. The working group was created after Energy Fuels petitioned the department of commerce to subsidize the domestic uranium market in 2018. The Canadian company owns uranium mines in San Juan County and the only operating uranium mill in the U.S., located outside of Blanding. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

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