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AM News Brief: Court Rejects Bump Stock Ban Challenge, Utah Dry Spell & Climate Migrants To Region

Photo of bump stock.
Wikimedia Commons
A U.S. appeals court ruled against Utah gun rights advocate who had challenged the Trump administration's ban on bump stocks, the gun attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns. This and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, May 8, 2020

State

Republican Governor Candidates Debate Coronavirus Response

The four Republican candidates for governor laid out their economic plans for Utah at a forum Thursday afternoon. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox praised the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, former Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes and former Gov. Jon Huntsman said the focus should be more on helping businesses. Former GOP Chair Thomas Wright called on the state to implement a hiring freeze. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Latinx Community Nearly 40% Of Utah COVID Cases

Utah has now had more than 5,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s according to data released Thursday by the state’s department of health. Officials also announced three new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 61. Two of them were in long term care facilities. The Latinx community continues to be disproportionately affected as they account for nearly 40% of all cases, but less than 15% of the state’s population. So far, about 135,000 Utahns have been tested. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Search Continues For Missing Teens

Boatmen with Utah State Parks searched into the night for two Eagle Mountain teens missing on Utah Lake since Wednesday afternoon. On Twitter, Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Cannon said search and rescue crews and other resources will return Friday morning to look for 18-year-old Priscilla Bienkowski and 17-year-old Sophia Hernandez. The girls were reported missing by family members Wednesday after going to the Knolls area on the west side of the lake. Authorities found what they believe are two tubes the girls used for floating on the water. Cannon said the cold temperature of the lake would make it difficult to survive. — Diane Maggipinto

Southern Utah

BLM Nominates 100,000 Acres For Energy Lease

The Bureau of Land Management is considering leasing over 100,000 acres of public land around Moab to energy companies. The nomination spans Grand and San Juan Counties — including land right next to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks, and could negatively impact tourism. But with tourism revenue down due to COVID-19, some argue a diversified tax base is exactly what Moab and Grand County need. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

A Utah Dry Spell

Utah is going through a dry spell, with some areas in the central and southeast part of the state in a “severe drought.” The latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows more than half the state is in a moderate drought. The report said that could affect farmers’ ability to grow crops and even lead to crop loss. It could also mean imposed water restrictions. Since October of last year, parts of the Great Basin have only received half of its average precipitation. — Jessica Lowell

Region/Nation

Court Rejects Challenge To Bump Stock Ban

A U.S. appeals court has ruled against Utah gun rights advocate Clark Aposhian. Aposhian had challenged the Trump administration's ban on bump stocks, the gun attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns. Judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a lower court was right to reject Aposhian's request to temporarily block the ban because he didn't show he was likely to win his case and that blocking the ban wouldn't hurt the public’s interest. The ban was enacted as a result of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas. Aposhian's lawyer said the case isn't over — a similar challenge is headed to trial in Texas in July. — Associated Press

New Report Finds Mountain West May See Influx Of “Climate Migrants”

Humans have been living in a specific temperature “niche” for at least 6,000 years. But climate change could force billions of people to live in areas outside of that by 2070. That’s according to a new study that analyzed current climate change projections and global temperatures. It shows that the Mountain West will likely stay within a livable temperature, but authors say we could see a massive influx of climate migrants. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Navajo Nation COVID Update

The Navajo Department of Health reported an additional 103 cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday, with three more deaths for a total of 88. Among the nearly 2,800 positive cases across the Navajo Nation, 46 are in San Juan County, Utah. — Diane Maggipinto

Some Latter-day Saint Temples To Open For Weddings

Some Latter-day Saint temples in Idaho, Germany and Sweden — along with 11 in Utah — will begin to reopen, according to officials from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Starting Monday, the Church will allow select locations to hold marriage ceremonies by appointment only and with a limited number of staff and guests. Officials say this is the first of four phases of reopening. Other temples will start to return to normal operations based on public health directives. — Ross Terrell

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