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PM News Brief: Shakespeare Festival Canceled, Five More Deaths & Romney Committee Hearing

An outdoor theater is perched on a pavilion underneath a blue, partly cloudy sky.
Courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival
The Utah Shakespeare festival has canceled this year's summer season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday evening, May 12, 2020

STATE

Romney Asks About Vaccine

In a Senate Health Committee hearing Tuesday, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney questioned health leaders about the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Romney asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, how close the U.S. is to creating a vaccine. Fauci said it’s not a longshot that the U.S. will have one within the next year or two. Romney also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to implement a real-time data gathering system to help the U.S. better understand where it stands in regards to things like hospitalizations and treatment. — Caroline Ballard

Five New COVID-19 Deaths

Utah’s Department of Health announced five new COVID-19 related deaths Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 73. Three of them were over the age of 85 and four of them were in long term care facilities. The other person had been hospitalized when they died. Health officials also announced the state has had more than 6,400 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than half have recovered. Over 153,000 Utahns have been tested for the virus. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

NORTHERN UTAH

Summit County Covid Cases

In March, Summit County had the first known case of COVID-19 via community spread in Utah and became the epicenter of the state’s coronavirus pandemic. Nearly two months later, the county’s numbers have started to plateau. The county health department said residents have taken stay-at-home orders seriously, which has helped prevent any COVID-related deaths in the county and has pushed it to the bottom of its transmission curve. But maintaining a decline in the number of cases depends on whether people keep up with social distancing and wearing masks as businesses reopen. Read the full story. — Emily Means

SOUTHERN UTAH

Southwest Leaders Retreat On Yellow Push

After Southwest Utah saw nearly 30 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, local leaders have walked back their second attempt to downgrade the area to the low risk phase of its pandemic response. At a Monday press briefing, Utah’s epidemiologist Angela Dunn said the state is monitoring multiple outbreaks in the southwest region and is working with the local health department to understand how other factors, like tourism, may have played a role. The rise in cases over the weekend is the biggest two-day jump the area has seen since the start of the pandemic. — David Fuchs

Shakespeare Festival Canceled

The Utah Shakespeare festival has canceled this year’s summer season. In April, festival officials announced plans to go ahead with its season, albeit with some changes — like social distancing measures for the audience and scaled-back costumes and sets. But in a release Tuesday, the festival’s executive producer Frank Mack said there were too many obstacles to overcome to put it on. The festival would have run from July through September in Cedar City, and according to its website, it typically draws about 100,000 patrons, a quarter of which come from out of state. Ticket holders for the 2020 season will be provided refunds. — Caroline Ballard

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