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PM News Brief: Romney Approval Ratings, Salt Lake City Ends Curfew & Weber State Professor Resigns

Photo of downtown Salt Lake City.
Brian Albers / KUER
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall on Wednesday ended the city’s night time curfew, which began after vandalism and property destruction during a protest against police brutality and racial injustice on Saturday. ";s:

Wednesday evening, June 3, 2020

State

Mitt Romney Approval Rating Rebounds

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney’s approval rating among Utah voters has rebounded since he voted to impeach President Donald Trump. A new poll released Wednesday by UtahPolicy.com and KUTV shows 56% of Utah voters approve or somewhat approve of the senator’s job performance. Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to convict the president in early February. A poll in March found that just 36% of Utah voters approved of him. — Sonja Hutson

State Commission Recommends Moving To Low Risk Phase Amidst COVID Spike

A commission created by the Utah Legislature is recommending that the state move to the green, low risk phase of pandemic response by Friday. Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement that he is reviewing the recommendation from the Public Health and Economic Emergency commission. Under the green phase, almost all businesses would reopen and social distancing and wearing a mask would still be encouraged. The Department of Health has reported more than 200 new daily cases for the past week but the commission argued that the state’s hospitalization and death rates are more important. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn, however, argued that case increases will mean a spike in hospitalizations in the coming week. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Epidemiologist Acknowledges COVID-19 Spike

Utah is in the midst of a sharp spike of COVID-19 cases, according to state epidemiologist Angela Dunn. The Utah Department of Health has reported increases of more than 200 new cases each day for the past week. Dunn said that cannot be tied to more testing or a single outbreak, and it could mean that COVID-19 is just starting to accelerate in Utah. Prior to this past week, Dunn had said the state’s positive rate of new cases remained consistent, which signaled cases were plateauing and the efforts were working to flatten the curve. — Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Equality Utah Endorses Jon Huntsman

Equality Utah has endorsed Republican Jon Huntsman in the race for governor. In a statement released Wednesday, the group said all gubernatorial candidates have demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community, but Huntsman stood out. Equality Utah points to his early support of an LGBTQ non-discrimination law and his time as an ambassador serving presidents of both parties, as indicative that he can build bridges and be inclusive. If Huntsman wins the Republican primary race, the group says its endorsement will carry through the general election. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Ends Curfew, Arrest Made In Squad Car Arson

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall on Wednesday ended the city’s night time curfew. The curfew began after vandalism and property destruction during a protest against police brutality and racial injustice on Saturday. Protesters flooded the streets just days after the in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The curfew ran from 8 p.m until 6 a.m. and had been set to expire on June 8. But since Saturday, marches in Salt Lake City have been mostly peaceful. Mendenhall wrote on Twitter that she wants to work together toward positivity and progress. Salt Lake City Police also announced the arrest of a person who they say helped burn a squad car Saturday. He faces federal arson charges and a minimum of five years in prison. Two other people have turned themselves in. — Sonja Hutson

Weber State Professor Resigns Over Tweets

Weber State University Professor Scott Senjo has resigned. Senjo has been criticized for tweets he sent in response to protests against police brutality. In one, he indicated he would have driven a police car into protestors, and in another he praised violence against journalists. Weber State University called the tweets hurtful and inconsistent with the school’s values. The university placed him on leave Tuesday to begin an investigation, but Senjo issued his resignation Wednesday. In an email he said “the public fury was too great,” and he had to resign immediately. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

150 Sheep Handed Out In Monument Valley

A nonprofit called Farmers Feeding Utah distributed over 150 sheep in Monument Valley this week. The event was part of a larger effort that brought 600 free sheep and 16,000 pounds of lamb meat sourced from Utah ranchers to the Navajo Nation. But only registered Utah voters were eligible to receive the help. It was an effort to help families affected by COVID-19. But the spread of the virus on the Utah portion of the Navajo has slowed in recent days. Read the full story.Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Navajo Nation Lifts Weekend Curfew

The Navajo Nation has lifted a 57-hour weekend curfew meant to slow the spread of COVID-19, but the Nation will leave a nightly curfew in place. The move follows news that hospitalizations on the Nation peaked in April, a month earlier than projected. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said that indicates they successfully slowed the spread of the virus.The infection rate on the reservation is also beginning to level off. Only 54 new cases were reported there Tuesday, compared to daily increases in the 100s last week. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

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