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PM News Brief: DMV Services, Hydroxychloroquine Refund & State Park Guidelines

Photo of a line of cars on a highway
Screengrab from Carl Downing facebook
After a busy weekend, Utah's state parks have new guidelines for visiting, announced Wednesday by the Department of Natural Resources. The number of people allowed inside state parks will be limited to the number of available, developed parking spaces.

Wednesday evening, April 29, 2020

STATE

Meds in Motion Refunds Hydroxychloroquine Purchase

Utah has received an $800,000 refund from Meds in Motion after the state purchased a controversial anti-malaria drug to treat COVID-19. In late March, the state bought 20,000 medication packs of hydroxychloroquine from the Draper-based pharmacy. But in a statement released Wednesday, the Governor’s Office said it reviewed the order and determined a state supply of the medicine is “no longer prudent.” The state of Utah said it has already received the refund and that the pharmacy plans to donate the medicine to charity. — Ross Terrell

Five Gubernatorial Candidates Debate

Utah’s population is expected to nearly double over the next four decades, according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. During a virtual forum Wednesday, gubernatorial candidates agreed: planning for that growth will involve expanding economic opportunities in rural Utah and investing in mass transit. The Republican Primary is June 30 and its winner will face off against Democratic nominee and University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson in November. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Limited In-Person DMV Services To Return

Some of Utah’s Division of Motor Vehicles in-person services will return this Friday but by appointment only. Five offices along the Wasatch front — Ogden, Farmington, Salt Lake, South Valley and Provo — will reopen their lobbies while continuing drive-thru services. DMV Executive Director Monte Roberts said he knows it may be awhile before people can get an appointment, so they’ve been working closely with the governor to draft an executive order that will give people an additional two weeks to complete expiring vehicle registrations. — Ross Terrell

COVID-19 Update

Health officials announced Wednesday more than 105,000 Utahns have been tested for COVID-19. And the state has had about 4,500 confirmed cases. Once again, the state announced no new deaths and an estimated 1,790 people have recovered from the virus. — Ross Terrell

Utah State Parks To Curb Visitors 

New guidelines for visiting Utah’s state parks were announced Wednesday by the Department of Natural Resources. Now, the number of people allowed inside state parks will be limited to the number of available, developed parking spaces. In Southern Utah, there will also be restrictions on highway parking at certain locations. Camping in some parks will be entirely prohibited or limited. Park officials are asking people to maintain social distancing and visit during the weekday or to avoid peak hours. — Grace Osusky

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

NORTHERN UTAH

Salt Lake County Lays Out Reopening Guidelines

Salt Lake County officials announced new regulations Wednesday as they prepare to allow some businesses to reopen Friday. Starting May 1, everyone must wear face masks inside an establishment and employees and customers will be turned away if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. Also starting Friday, new state regulations will increase the size of gatherings allowed, and personal service businesses like salons will reopen by appointment only. — Jessica Lowell

Cedar Hills Man’s Silver Products Shut Down

A federal court in Utah has stopped the sale of a fraudulent treatment for the coronavirus. According to the Department of Justice, Cedar Hills resident Gordon Pedersen claimed his companies’ silver products could protect against and treat COVID-19. A complaint said Pedersen used a variety of misleading and false statements to promote his silver products, including that having silver in the bloodstream will “usher” any coronavirus out of the body. The court’s injunction prevents Pedersen from selling these products, and a separate order freezes his assets. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 12. — Caroline Ballard

REGION / NATION

Rural County COVID Cases Increase

Most big cities are seeing COVID-19 cases fall, but rural counties are seeing the exact opposite. That’s according to a new analysis by the Daily Yonder — a rural news outlet. The analysis shows that rural counties with fewer than 50,000 people have seen an increase of cases over the last month. That’s troubling for vulnerable people in rural communities far from medical resources. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

McAdams Calls For Loan Recipient Disclosure

Democratic Congressman Ben McAdams is calling on federal officials to release the list of companies who received aid through the Paycheck Protection Program. He made the request in a letter to the Treasury Department Tuesday. The loan program is set up to send close to $700 billion to small businesses hurt by the economic shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s been criticized for helping big corporations instead. McAdams said more transparency will help Congress make sure the money is going to those who need it. Federal officials have yet to respond to the request. — Jon Reed

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