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PM News Brief: Unemployment Claims, Salt Lake Police COVID Cases & Antibiotic Resistance

Police vehicle with emergency lights flashing at night.
Brian Albers / KUER
The Salt Lake City Police Department announced Thursday that two of its officers have tested positive for COVID-19.

Thursday evening, May 7, 2020

STATE

Utah Board Of Education Federal Aid

The Utah State Board of Education announced it will receive $67.8 million from the federal government as part of the CARES Act. The bulk of the money will go towards bridging current budget gaps and making sure regular operations continue, along with classes and after school programs for the summer and updating school computers and tablets. No concrete plan is in place yet for how K-12 schools will start back up next fall, but USBE officials said they are looking at a few strategies that could be shifted based on the level of health risk in the fall. Online learning will likely continue to be a major part of the equation. — Jon Reed

Governor Defends State’s Actions

Gov. Gary Herbert is defending the actions of the state after questions about whether it overpaid on some contracts and purchases as part of its COVID-19 response. Herbert said it was an emergency situation but after an internal review his office found everyone acted in good faith. He did relent that communication between departments could have been better. Now, all purchasing will move under the unified command that’s been set up to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. — Sonja Hutson

9,000 New Unemployment Claims

Nine thousand more Utahns filed for unemployment benefits last week — but the state continues to see a gradual decline in new applicants. That’s according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Workforce services. An additional 4,000 people, not eligible for traditional benefits, applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. As Utah has moved to relax some social distancing measures, workforce services says it’s also seen more people coming off unemployment. Last week, some 3,000 people stopped filing. Nationwide, jobless claims rose to over 3 million last week, according to the Labor Department, for a seven-week total of over 33 million people. — Jon Reed

Proposed Hunting Season Changes 

Utah could see some changes to its upland game and turkey hunting season, according to the state’s Division of Wildlife Resources. The division has proposed extending the sandhill crane hunting season around East Box Elder from nine to 60 days. Another potential change would allow people to use airguns to hunt rabbits and hares at all times and for turkeys during just the fall season. Division officials also want to move the youth quail hunt closer to the general-season opener, with the hope to increase participation. — Jessica Lowell

NORTHERN UTAH

Salt Lake Police COVID Cases 

The Salt Lake City Police Department announced Thursday two of its officers have tested positive for COVID-19. Both are first responders and have been quarantined, along with 20 other employees. In a statement, Police Chief Mike Brown said they feel “confident we can continue to conduct our duties to the community without interruption.” Also Thursday, Utah health officials announced the state has now had more than 5,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19. And three more Utahns have died due to the virus bringing the state’s total to 61. Over 134,000 people here have been tested. — Ross Terrell & Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

SOUTHERN UTAH

Washington County Fights For Move To Yellow

Local leaders in Washington County have renewed their bid to classify the COVID-19 risk in their area from moderate to low. Washington County Commissioner Gil Almquist and St. George Mayor Jon Pike sent a letter to the Governor's Office Wednesday asking that the shift take place as soon as Friday. The move comes one day after the Utah Department of Health denied a similar request earlier in the week, writing that it’s critical for the whole state to remain under the “orange” or moderate-risk phase until May 15. — David Fuchs, St. George

REGION/NATION

Antibiotic Resistance Concerns

A listener in Idaho wants to know whether all these hand sanitizers and antibiotics we’re using in the fight against COVID–19 is creating a new kind of danger, mainly, antibiotic-resistance. The University of Colorado’s School of Medicine said don’t worry about the sanitizer. It’s essentially no different than washing your hands and that doesn’t create resistance. But physicians do use antibiotics on COVID–19 patients who develop secondary bacterial infections. And when we use a lot of antibiotics, this can create antibiotic resistant bacteria. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

You can submit your own questions about COVID-19 here.

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