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PM News Brief: COVID Cases Spike, Rent Cancellation Protest & Concert Injunction

Photo of an eviction notice
Brian Albers
Protesters in Utah and throughout the country plan to gather Saturday to demand rent cancellation for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday evening, May 29, 2020


Legislature May Dip Into Medicaid Rainy Day Fund

The state Legislature’s Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee voted Friday to recommend using roughly $37 million from the Medicaid rainy day fund to offset proposed cuts to social services. Those cuts include reducing payments to foster families and money for domestic violence shelters. Plummeting tax revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic have forced lawmakers to find a way to cut up to $1.3 billion from the state’s budget for next fiscal year. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

More Cities And Counties Move To Yellow As COVID Cases Spike

Gov. Gary Herbert issued an executive order Friday moving Grand County, West Valley City and Magna to the yellow or low risk phase of pandemic response. But Salt Lake City, Bluff and Mexican Hat are still in the orange — moderate risk level. The moves come as Utah health officials announced 343 new COVID-19 cases. That tops Thursday’s mark as the largest single day increase and brings the state to more than 9,200 cases. But Utah’s epidemiologist Angela Dunn said people shouldn’t jump to conclusions because “one day does not make a trend.” Dunn partially attributed the rise to more tests this week after a lull over Memorial Day weekend and to possible localized outbreaks, like in a veteran’s nursing home. So far, nearly 206,000 people have been tested. And just over 5,800 are estimated to have recovered. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

United Utah Calls For Herbert Investigation

The United Utah Party is calling on the state’s attorney general to investigate whether Gov. Gary Herbert tried to bribe gubernatorial candidate Thomas Wright to drop out of the race. reported earlier this week that Herbert promised to help Wright in a race to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Mike Lee if he dropped out and endorsed Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. Herbert confirmed he met with Wright to discuss dropping out of the race and supporting Cox but denied trying to make a deal with him. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Congressional Delegates Comment On Death Of George Floyd

Members of Utah’s Congressional delegation continue to weigh in on the death of George Floyd. Floyd died in Minnesota after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd had been handcuffed and was laying face down. Video of the incident has led to violent protests throughout the Midwest city and other parts of the country. Republican Rep. John Curtis tweeted Friday that he is “unable to comprehend” the death of Floyd saying we can’t let violence and racism erode what the country stands for. Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams called the killing senseless and outrageous, and he asked that people work toward healing the divide in the country. The officer who held Floyd down with his knee has been arrested and charged with 3rd degree murder and manslaughter. — Ross Terrell


Protesters To Call For Rent Cancellation During The Pandemic

Protesters in Utah and throughout the country are gathering Saturday to demand rent cancellation for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. The Party of Socialism and Liberation is holding a car protest in Salt Lake City and Cedar City at noon and in Provo at 4 p.m. Sam Cook, one of the event organizers, said it is not enough to just freeze rent payments because people will eventually owe back-rent. Cook said they are also asking banks to waive mortgage payments for landlords. — Jessica Lowell

Judge Issues Restraining Order Against Concert

A Utah district court issued a restraining order Friday against a social distancing-protest concert planned Saturday evening in Tooele County. Organizers said the outdoor event is aimed at promoting small businesses hurt by the coronavirus pandemic and are expecting up to 5,000 people. The Tooele County Health Department, however, said the organizers didn’t get a permit and officials can’t guarantee they’ve taken proper health and safety precautions. The venue owner has not said yet if he intends to violate the order, but the event organizer said before the hearing he plans on having the event regardless of the court’s ruling. The concert had been previously scheduled to happen in Kaysville, but was moved after city officials voted against it. — Jon Reed

Trump Tweets Money Is Headed To The Utah Transit Authority

President Donald Trump tweeted at the Utah Transit Authority Thursday, announcing that the federal government is putting $64.5 million toward a project in Ogden. It would help create a bus route transit system through Ogden and will include stops at and between Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital. UTA responded to the tweet thanking the president for the support and said it will partner with federal agencies and local stakeholders. Weber State University also tweeted that it is looking forward to having rapid transit options. Officials with UTA said Trump’s tweet is a “positive sign” but they are still in the process of finalizing the project. — Caroline Ballard

First Prison COVID Case

Utah’s Department of Corrections announced Friday its first positive COVID-19 case at the State Prison in Draper. The department said in a release the inmate came to the facility from a county jail on May 27, and tested positive for COVID-19 within 48 hours. When he first arrived at the prison, he was housed with a small group of other inmates. The positive case is a male between the ages of 18 and 24, and he has since been isolated. — Caroline Ballard


Virtual Call Held On Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women

In a first of its kind call today, a presidential task force focused on the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women hosted a forum to discuss how it is affecting Native Americans in the Southwest. But participants were frustrated by the format of the call, which occurred online and gave each participant only three minutes to talk. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

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