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AM News Brief: Mountain West Suicide Rates, Curbside Library & Historic Salt Lake Shipwreck

Photo of sunset over Salt Lake City.
Brian Albers
The Mountain West has some of the highest rates of suicide by gun in the U.S. Utah is ninth in the nation and Wyoming has the highest rate of any state, according to the most recent federal data. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, May 26, 2020


Utah’s Latinx Unemployment Claims

Hispanic and Latinx people made up 13% of Utah’s unemployment claims in April, according to the state’s Department of Workforce Services. But Suazo Business Center Executive Director Silvia Castro said it’s difficult to measure the impact within that community because many people won’t apply for unemployment benefits. Castro said Latinx people largely work in industries that have been shut down by the pandemic. The center is teaching their clients digital skills, so they can get better jobs if their current ones don’t come back. Nationally, the unemployment rate is about 15%, but for the Hispanic and Latinx workforce, it’s around 18%. Read The Full Story. — Emily Means

Protecting Personal Data On Healthy Together App

State Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, is planning to sponsor a bill aimed at protecting the privacy of Utahns who use the state’s COVID-19 voluntary contact tracing app. The Healthy Together app prompts users to take a symptom assessment each day and connects them with a testing site if they have symptoms. It also tracks where users go, if they give the app permission to do so. State officials said location data is deleted and information about symptoms is anonymized after 30 days. Hemmert said he wants to make that policy law and require all data to be deleted when the state no longer needs it to fight COVID-19. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Tinder Date Murder

A man accused of choking and stabbing a woman after meeting her on the dating app Tinder has been arrested by Layton police. 24-year-old Ethan Hunsaker is suspected in the killing of 25-year-old Ashlyn Black of Layton over the weekend. Court documents say Hunsaker called 911 to report he'd killed someone inside his home and reportedly asked a dispatcher to tell officers to shoot him. Hunsaker allegedly told police that he choked and then stabbed Black unprovoked. — Associated Press

Salt Lake County Library Services

The Salt Lake County Library system is open again with limited services. Book drops are now open to return materials, and librarians are delivering on-hold materials to the curb for patrons, by appointment. The move is part of a phased reopening through June to expand access to the system's library branches. County Library Director Jim Cooper said while the system has seen a huge increase in use of online resources, he realizes it's not the preferred format for many. He said the plans they developed for the public to safely access the Library's physical collection will also maintain safety for staff and other patrons. — Diane Maggipinto

BYU Athletes Ready To Hit The Gym

Brigham Young University will reopen some of its athletic facilities for student athletes starting June 1. BYU’s football team and its men’s and women’s basketball teams will be allowed to resume voluntary workouts as early as next week. It’s the first step in a multi-phased approach to reopening in accordance with guidelines from the NCAA and Utah health officials. For now, people using the facilities will be required to get their temperature checked, wear masks and practice social distancing. — Ross Terrell

Possible Great Salt Lake Shipwreck Discovery

Officials with Great Salt Lake State Park think they've discovered remnants of an old steel boat that they believe dates back to the turn of the 20th century. In a tweet Monday, they said boating and other recreational activities have been the norm since the middle 1800s on the lake, a fragment of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville. Park officials say some shipwrecks were buried long ago during wind storms and shifting sand. They believe winds late last week gusting to 50 miles an hour uncovered the steel hull. — Diane Maggipinto


Mountain West Shows High Rates Of Suicide

The Mountain West has some of the highest rates of suicide by gun in the U.S. Utah is ninth in the nation and Wyoming has the highest rate of any state, according to the most recent federal data. Rural communities are more likely to experience loneliness, isolation and poverty and the pandemic could be increasing that risk. Activists say it’s crucial for people to check in on loved ones’ mental health and making sure their guns are stored properly. — Melodie Edwards, Wyoming Public Radio

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Navajo Nation COVID-19 Cases

The number of cases of COVID-19 on the Navajo reservation is nearing 4,800. The Navajo Department of Health and Indian Health Services says an additional 265 new cases were confirmed over the long weekend. There were also eight more deaths, for a total 157. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez believes the curve is flattening and touts the aggressive testing, saying nearly 15% of residents on the Navajo Nation have been tested. — Diane Maggipinto

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