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AM News Brief: Flash Flood Claims Life, Virtual Public Comment & Free Books For High-Risk Neighbors

Photo of Salt Lake City Public Library, Downtown branch.
File Photo
A local non-profit is adding books to its list of items it will deliver to high-risk people who are self-isolating. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, May 12 2020

State

Drive-Up Voting

The June 30 primary election will be conducted entirely by mail under a new state law. Seven counties will give their residents the option to pick up a ballot in their car on election day if they don’t get one in the mail. Those counties are Utah, Salt Lake, Weber, Davis, Tooele, Iron and Box Elder. The law, which applies only to this year’s primary election, gave counties the option to provide drive-up locations and is intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The new law also requires counties to make accommodations for people with disabilities. The voter registration deadline is June 19, and there will be no same-day registration, provisional ballots or early voting, even in counties with drive-up locations. Read the full story. Sonja Hutson

Virtual Legislative Committees Welcome The Public

Virtual legislative committee meetings being held Tuesday and Wednesday will include live public comment. Utahns wanting to weigh in have to fill out a form on the legislature’s website and will then be contacted with details on how to join the electronic meeting. Two virtual special sessions last month did not include committee hearings or live public comment. Legislative staff said they didn’t have time to set up the technology required to make that possible. — Sonja Hutson

Help For High-Risk People

Utah epidemiologist Angela Dunn announced a hotline Monday for people who fall into high risk categories for COVID-19 and may need help getting meals and groceries. People can call 1-877-424-4640, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Since reopening parts of the state’s economy May 1, Dunn said the number of new cases has continued to plateau, but that this doesn’t mean the state will move to the yellow, low risk phase soon. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

City Planning For Social Distancing

City planners and architects in Utah are using the pandemic as a “reset” to think about the uses of streets in the state. "Urban Design Utah" is looking to be more accommodating to people using open spaces and public transportation while social distancing. They are considering plans that would expand sidewalks for pedestrians and create space for more outdoor dining. They also want to redesign bus stops to help with social distancing. — Jessica Lowell

National Parks Phased Reopening

The National Park Service is working on a phased re-opening of parks on a case-by-case basis. Dinosaur National Monument’s roads and trails will be open Wednesday, with limited access to restrooms and no drinking water available. The park service cautions that visitors should be prepared to be self-sufficient. Zion will also begin admitting visitors tomorrow, and last week, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks partially reopened. The Park Service also announced Monday that Arches and Canyonlands National Parks will resume roads, trails and restroom access on May 29. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Search For Teens Shifts Focus

Search crews have scaled back the on-water search for two teenagers missing on Utah Lake and instead will focus on searching from the air. Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said pilots will fly over the lake three to four times a day over the next few days. He said taking boats off the water will help the air searchers spot human remains. Sophia Hernandez and Priscilla Bienkowski, ages 17 and 18, were reported missing by family members May 6 after going to float on the water. Tubes found on shore are believed to have been used by the pair. — Diane Maggipinto

Free Books For Isolated People

A local non-profit is adding books to its list of items it will deliver to high-risk people who are self-isolating. Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a volunteer organization that delivers groceries and essential supplies in Salt Lake City. They’ve partnered with Friends of The City Library to deliver two free books — fiction or nonfiction — that people will be able to keep. While the City Library is closed to the public, it has continued its services on-line. But the partnership is meant to help people who may not have internet or access to computers or e-readers. The books were originally meant to be sold in the annual library book sale, but that has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. — Elaine Clark

Southern Utah

Flash Flood Claims Life

A flash flood swept through Little Wildhorse Canyon near Goblin Valley State Park Monday, leaving a 7-year-old girl dead. Emery County Sheriff's Office said more than 67 personnel are still searching for her 3-year-old sister. At least 21 people escaped safely, and authorities believe everyone else is accounted for. An isolated thunderstorm crossed the San Rafael Swell in the early afternoon Monday, causing flash flooding in nearby slot canyons. — Diane Maggipinto

Region/Nation

Renewable Energy Steps Into Coal And Oil Gaps

As demand for coal and oil drops off, development of renewable energy projects is mostly continuing on in the Mountain West. The utility PacifiCorp, which operates in 10 western states, is preparing its largest request for renewable development ever. By July 20, the utility is asking developers to submit project plans to help produce a combined 4,000 megawatts of solar and wind throughout the west. New data shows renewable energy sources have contributed to more national electricity supply than coal this spring. — Cooper McKim, Mountain West News Bureau

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