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AM News Brief: Free COVID Testing, Wildfire Arrest & More Teleworking For Better Air

Photo of air pollution
Brian Albers / KUER
Utah generally has the best air quality in March and April, but in the past couple months, emissions were even lower because fewer people are on the road due to state-wide closures. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, May 13, 2020

State

State Budget And Falling Tax Revenues

A Utah legislative committee will meet Wednesday to discuss changes to the state’s budget in response to falling tax revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic. Every new budget item the state approved earlier this year could be on the chopping block. Executive Appropriations Chair Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said the state is looking at $1 billion to $2.5 billion in lost tax revenue they were previously counting on. The Legislature has asked state agencies to submit three different budget plans that have 2%, 5% and 10% cuts. — Sonja Hutson

Incentivizing Continued Teleworking For Air Quality

Utah generally has the best air quality in March and April, according to Bryce Bird with the state’s Division of Air Quality. Bird said in the past couple months, emissions were very low because fewer people are on the road due to state-wide closures. While the division has paused payments for incentive programs, they are still considering creating employer “trip reduction programs” to incentivize teleworking in the future. — Jessica Lowell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Potential Settlement In McCluskey Lawsuit

The parents of slain student-athlete Lauren McCluskey have agreed to discuss a possible settlement to their $56 million lawsuit against the University of Utah. Matt and Jill McCluskey are scheduled to hold a video conference next week with the state attorney general's office, which represents the university. McCluskey was fatally shot outside her dormitory in October 2018 by Melvin Rowland, a registered sex offender on parole whom she briefly dated. The McCluskeys sued the university, alleging campus police could have prevented their daughter's killing. — Diane Maggipinto

Arrest Made In Wildfire Cluster

The Saddle Fire north of Midway quickly grew from 5 to 200 acres Tuesday and is just 5% contained. The Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a juvenile who is a suspect in the Saddle Fire and other fires in the same area over the last few days. Several homes were on an evacuation watch, nine were cleared out and some Wasatch Mountain State Park trails are off-limits because of the fire. Sheriffs said they'd already been investigating what they call the suspicious nature of the cluster of fires and believe the juvenile acted alone. — Diane Maggipinto

Mexican Consulate To Provide Free COVID-19 Testing

The Consulate of Mexico in Salt Lake City has arranged free COVID-19 testing this Friday for people without health insurance. Tests will be conducted drive-thru style at Centro Civico Mexicano, but pre-registration is required. The Consulate is partnering with the state and Salt Lake County departments of health, Comunidades Unidas and other organizations. The Latinx community accounts for 38% of Utah’s COVID-19 cases. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Two Children Dead In Flash Flood

Two sisters died in a flash flood in Little Wild Horse Canyon near Goblin Valley State Park on Monday, and their remains have been found. Search and rescue crews found the 3-year-old Tuesday, some 28 miles down the wash from where she was last seen, according to Emery County sheriffs. Her 7-year-old sister was found by their father after waters receded. No names have been released. — Diane Maggipinto

Navajo Nation COVID-19 Cases

The Navajo Nation will extend its state of emergency and keep government offices closed through June 7. The original order was set to expire Sunday. The Navajo Times reports 41 new cases of COVID-19 for the Navajo Nation, bringing the total to 3,245 and a total of 103 deaths as of Tuesday. The Utah Department of Health, in conjunction with Utah Navajo Health Systems, reported 149 cases in San Juan County on the Utah portion of the Navajo Nation.. — Diane Maggipinto

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