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AM News Brief: A Dry April, Reopening Guidelines & Navajo COVID Cases

View of great salt lake from foothills.
iStock / TerryJ
Last month was the driest April on record in Salt Lake City. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, May 1, 2020

State

Reopening Spike In Cases?

As Utah reopens parts of its economy, some people fear there could be a spike in coronavirus cases across the state. Gov. Gary Herbert has called on Utahns to do what they have been doing — keep their distance, wear masks, wash their hands often. Herbert said the state will keep an eye on the data and if they need to, health officials will shift the state back to the red, high risk phase. Communities with few COVID-19 cases could ask to move to the yellow phase and have even more restrictions lifted. — Sonja Hutson

COVID-19 Update

Utah has had more than 4,600 confirmed COVID-19 cases and continues to have about a 4% growth rate. Utah’s epidemiologist announced they will form “strike teams” to address potential outbreaks which will include health officials from both the state and local levels and target community hotspots. So far, more than 108,000 Utahns have been tested for the virus and the state has now had 46 deaths. — Jessica Lowell

Reopening Guidelines For Business And Public

As Utah enters the orange, moderate risk phase of its pandemic response, the state has released guidelines for business owners and residents to follow. Non-essential businesses like gyms and hair salons can reopen. But at gyms, workers must ask members a series of questions before they come in — like recent travel, any symptoms, and if someone in their home is sick. For barber shops and hair salons, not only do they have to shift to appointment only, but both the customer and employee must wear face coverings. The guidelines also urge establishments to take the temperatures of their workers before their shift starts. — Jessica Lowell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Dry April

Last month was the driest April on record in Salt Lake City. National Weather Service data show the capitol got a quarter-inch of rain, breaking the record of half an inch set in 1934. — Diane Maggipinto

Northern Utah

Citizen Scientists Help Real Scientists

Scientists face a big problem when it comes to gathering large amounts of information. It’s expensive - and funding isn’t always available. So researchers are using community collaborations to help with their work. Volunteers of all ages do things like take pictures of plants and animals and post them to crowd-sourcing apps or report to researchers on how much rain and snow they’ve gotten in their backyard. It helps save scientists money on equipment and gives them extra eyes and ears. Read the full story.Grace Osusky

Restaurants Respond to Reopening

After more than a month of takeout and curbside pick-up only, many Utah restaurants will be allowed to begin dine-in service Friday. Two restaurants in Salt Lake City are trying to make it work under strict operational guidelines laid out by state and local governments, like keeping tables 6 feet apart and limiting the size of groups. One is reopening because customers have asked them to. The other said the guidelines are cost prohibitive and don't think it's worth the risk, so they will remain closed for in-person service. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

Navajo COVID Cases

Data from the Navajo Health Department show 10 additional cases of COVID-19 on the portion of the reservation in San Juan County, Utah. They're among the 164 new cases announced Thursday, along with nine more deaths, bringing that total to 71. And of the more than 12,000 tests administered across the Navajo Nation, more than 2,100 results are positive. Friday night at 8 begins a fourth consecutive weekend curfew on the reservation that runs through 5 a.m. Monday. — Diane Maggipinto

Region/Nation

Church Cancels Treks and Pageants

All treks and pageants hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be canceled for the rest of the year. Church officials also announced recreation areas used for camps and conferences will be closed. The decision comes as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and affects properties in the U.S. and Canada. Two pageants, the Nauvoo and Hill Cumorah, have been rescheduled for July 2021. — Grace Osusky

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