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AM News Brief: AG Reyes Deletes Endorsement Tweet, Police Face Masks & Box Elder Wildfires

Photo of Sean Reyes.
Brian Grimmett
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has picked up a high-profile endorsement. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, June 4, 2020


COVID-19 Spike

For the past week, Utah has reported more than 200 new COVID-19 cases each day. Wednesday health officials reported an increase of 295 cases. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said this is concerning, but the health department can’t attribute it to any one thing. Officials also reported 4 new deaths related to the virus — all males, three of them older than the age of 60. All of them were either hospitalized or in a long term care facility. So far, nearly 224,000 people have been tested. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

AG Sean Reyes Deletes Tweet Of Trump Jr. Endorsement

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has picked up a high-profile endorsement. On Tuesday, Reyes posted a video on Twitter of Donald Trump Jr. asking Utah voters to support the incumbent attorney general. He has since deleted it though, apparently Wednesday evening. Trump Jr. called Reyes his “very dear friend” and said Reyes has fought for President Donald Trump and Utah values. A number of Twitter users responded to the tweet saying they planned to vote for Reyes but the endorsement by Trump Jr. changed their minds. Recent polling puts Reyes ahead of his Republican primary opponent, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt. But the president’s job approval has dropped among voters in the state, according to a poll from Utah Policy. — Emily Means

Fire Weather Watch Across Utah

A fire weather watch will be in effect Friday for the Salt Lake Desert, the Central Utah and Color Country West Desert fire zones, as well as the Mojave Desert which includes part of Washington County in the Southwest portion of the state. The National Weather Service said it will be windy with little moisture and any fire starts could spread rapidly. — Diane Maggipinto

Northern Utah

Police And Face Masks

Some police officers at recent protests in Salt Lake City were seen not wearing masks — despite a recent spike in new COVID-19 cases across Utah. Michael Russ with the city’s police department said officers have access to masks, but they can interfere with police equipment and officers’ ability to communicate. State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn recommended that law enforcement wear facial gear, but she said individual police departments have to make a unique decision because of the protests. — Jessica Lowell

Box Elder County Wildfires

Three wildfires are burning in Box Elder County. Utah Wildfire officials say they all erupted Wednesday night from lightning strikes. Structures are threatened on the 500 acre Bar H Fire in Hansel Valley. The Peplin Fire is about 600 acres and is also threatening structures. Officials said some railroad structures on the old Transcontinental Railroad were destroyed in the Matlin Fire, estimated at 1,500 acres. Fire officials said strong winds are hampering crews' efforts to fight the blazes. — Diane Maggipinto

Southern Utah/Region

Mail-In Ballots And Native Voting Rights

The Native American Rights Fund released a report Thursday that cautions states moving to mail-in ballots without ensuring tribal members can vote safely in person. Possible issues include online voter registration that could be hampered by spotty or complete lack of internet service on reservations, ballots delivered to Post Office boxes that are rarely checked and possible low turnout because of a reluctance to vote by mail. In Utah, San Juan County, which includes portions of the Navajo Nation, is bound by a settlement agreement it entered into in 2018, as the result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. Under the agreement, the county must provide voting locations on or near the Nation for early voting as well as on election day and must provide a Navajo interpreter at each location. — Diane Maggipinto & Kate Groetzinger

Federal Land Agency Moves, But Top Managers Aren’t Following

The Bureau of Land Management should finish moving its headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado by July 1. BLM leadership said the idea was to get decision makers closer to the action. But according to analysis by The Hill, a DC News website, the agency still hasn’t filled some of those top positions. A spokesperson with BLM could not confirm on deadline the number of positions that remain unfilled. But at least one is currently posted. The Division Chief of the Wild Horse and Burros program. BLM’s Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley has said that wild horses are the most important issue facing public lands. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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