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PM News Brief: Black Birders Week, Utah National Guard To D.C. & COVID-19 Saliva Testing

Photo of a bird
Mathias Appel via Flickr
The first ever Black Birders Week this week comes in response to the racist incident in Central Park last week when a white woman called the police after a Black birder asked her to put her dog on a leash.

Tuesday evening, June 2, 2020

STATE

Utah Attorney General Candidates Square Off

The two Republican candidates for Attorney General sparred at a debate Tuesday afternoon. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and his primary challenger, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt, hurled accusations at each other for an hour. Leavitt said Reyes was too political, took too many campaign donations and hasn’t worked hard enough on criminal justice reform. Reyes argued that Leavitt was a one-issue candidate who only cares about criminal justice reform, while touting his own work on opioids and human trafficking. The winner of June’s primary will face Democrat Greg Skordas in the general election. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Utah National Guard Called To Washington D.C.

About 200 members of Utah’s National Guard have arrived in Washington D.C. to help control racial injustice protests that are gripping the city. National Guard officials said they sent soldiers at the request of President Trump. Gen. Michael Turley said in a statement this mission is one of their toughest, but they are ready for it. Turley said it’s been heartbreaking to see the pain and frustration in American communities. Gov. Gary Herbert deployed about 200 Guard members in Salt Lake City this weekend after protests turned destructive. — Ross Terrell

Spike In COVID Cases Continues For Sixth Straight Day

Utah surpassed 10,000 positive cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, according to the state health department. That marks the sixth day in a row of more than 200 new cases. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said the spike is concerning, and likely due to Memorial Day celebrations and graduation parties. Dunn said recent protests could also contribute to higher numbers, and health officials will be watching how the events might impact cases over the next few weeks. She said a continued upward trend would be worrying. But they are working on targeted messaging to keep people aware of the pandemic. — Jon Reed

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

NORTHERN UTAH

Salt Lake City Buildings Damaged During Protests

At least four Salt Lake City buildings were damaged during Saturday’s protests against police brutality. Between the City and County building, Plaza 349 and the Justice Courts, nearly 40 windows were busted. At the public safety building — which houses police and firefighters, several panels of reinforced glass were damaged too. City officials said parking signs, benches, bike racks, and other smaller items were also defiled during the protest. As for police cars, one was totaled after being flipped and set on fire, and two more are in the body shop. Officials don’t yet have an estimate on how much the repairs will cost the city. — Ross Terrell

Weber State University Condemns Professor’s Tweets

Administrators at Weber State University are condemning tweets by a criminal justice professor during demonstrations last weekend protesting the death of George Floyd. The university said in a statement Monday that tweets by longtime professor Scott Senjo were "abhorrent.” Senjo tweeted support for damage to CNN headquarters and commented on a post that seems to support a police car driving into protesters. The university says an investigation is underway to determine if other measures would be taken to ensure campus safety. — Associated Press

Salt Lake City Police Meet With Community Leaders

The Salt Lake City Police Department along with Mayor Erin Mendenhall met with community leaders on Tuesday to review police policy. The discussion focused on things like use of force, body worn camera, and conduct standards. Democratic Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, the state’s only African-American representative, along with Kamaal Ahmad, Weber State’s football coach, are scheduled to be members of the panel. This comes less than 24 hours after a second night of protests in the city against police brutality and racial injustice. — Ross Terrell

COVID-19 Saliva Testing

A new study by the University of Utah and ARUP Laboratories is examining whether COVID-19 can be found in saliva. They’re looking for easier and less-invasive ways to test for the disease. Current practice is to perform a deep nasal cavity swab, which can be uncomfortable. People getting tested for COVID-19 at the University of Utah’s Redwood Center can participate in the study by having their saliva collected and the front of their noses swabbed. Researchers are looking for 1,000 participants and hope to have results in about a month. — Caroline Ballard

REGION/NATION

First Ever Black Birders Week

It’s Black Birders Week. And if you’ve not heard of that before — that’s because it’s new. This inaugural event came about in response to the racist incident in Central Park last week when a white woman called the police after a Black birder asked her to put her dog on a leash. Founders say microaggressions like this and a general misconception that Black people aren’t interested in the outdoors can make it hard for some to take up the activity. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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