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PM News Brief: College Sports, Young Living Employees & Grand Canyon Reopening

Photo of grand canyon sign.
istock.com / mdmworks
The president of the Navajo Nation is asking the National Park Service to keep the Grand Canyon closed as COVID-19 continues to ravage the reservation.

Friday evening, May 15, 2020

STATE

Utah Lawmakers And Local Control

A bill introduced during April’s virtual session would have allowed the governor to modify or veto local health orders and required elected officials, not health departments, to be the ones to issue them but it failed. Now, Utah lawmakers plan to try again. When the Political Subdivisions Interim Committee meets in June, Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, one of the committee’s chairs, said reviving that concept will be a top priority. Handy added that he expects legislation in next year’s general session aimed at repealing the ability of local governments to issue their own stay at home orders.The original bill received a wave of pushback from people who thought it gave local governments morepower. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Two More COVID-19 Deaths

Utah has now had more than 6,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19. That’s according to new numbers released Friday by the Utah Department of Health. The department also announced two new deaths, bringing the state’s total to 77. One person had been in the hospital and the other was at a long term care facility at the time of their death. Still, more than 3,700 Utahns have recovered from the virus and about 163,000 people here have been tested. — Ross Terrell

Check out KUER’s continuing coverage of COVID-19 in Utah.

SOUTHERN UTAH

Navajo President Wants Grand Canyon To Remain Closed

The president of the Navajo Nation is asking the National Park Service to keep the Grand Canyon closed as COVID-19 continues to ravage the reservation. The park reopened Friday as Arizona’s stay-at-home order expired. Navajo President Jonathan Nez said in a statement he hoped the park would stay closed until the infection rate on the Navajo Nation was flat. On Thursday, the Nation reported 141 new cases. The infection rate there is now almost 10 times higher than Utah’s. And cases are projected to peak later this month. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

NORTHERN UTAH

Could College Sports Return This Fall?

As Utah moves into the low risk phase of its pandemic response, gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed. While most summer classes at universities in the state will remain online, schools are working out what sports programs will look like in the fall. In a panel hosted by the University of Utah Friday, Athletic Director Mark Harlan said the school is planning to have football games come September, though the details are still being worked out. There might, for example, be smaller crowds, staggered entrances to avoid lines and digital-only ticketing. The NCAA said earlier this week start dates will be left up to state officials and university presidents, but Harlan said the group is also working on stadium standards that could be adopted system-wide. — Jon Reed

Young Living Employees Working From Home All 2020

Utah-based essential oil company, Young Living, announced Friday it will keep the majority of its employees working at home for the rest of the year. The move will affect about 1,200 people employed at the multi-level marketing company’s Lehi headquarters. In a release, Young Living cited increased productivity among workers and a decrease in carbon emissions since transitioning to a mostly remote operation March 13. — Caroline Ballard

REGION

Natural Gas Woes

Natural gas prices were already low before the pandemic but COVID-19 has brought prices even lower. One of the largest natural gas producers in our region is now filing for bankruptcy for the second time in five years. Ultra Petroleum in Wyoming already had significant debt and the sustained low natural gas prices were the final straw. Energy experts say there are more bankruptcies to come. Utah is the 13th largest producer of natural gas nationwide.— Cooper McKim, Mountain West News Bureau

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