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AM News Brief: Pandemic Poop, Kane Goes Green & Red Flag Warning

Photo of clock in downtown Salt Lake.
Catch up on the latest news from across the state.

Friday morning, June 12, 2020

Northern Utah

Waste Treatment Plants Reflect COVID Infections

Utah researchers have been sampling the state’s wastewater in hopes of tracking the spread of the coronavirus. And after seeing results of the initial pilot program, they announced Thursday that the study is working. Researchers tested wastewater in 10 treatment plants and found trends consistent with known infection rates. They saw higher levels of the virus in Logan and Hyrum sewage treatment plants, which mirrored the increase in cases. Continuing to monitor Utah’s sewage could help detect rising infection levels, overall community infection trends, and confirm low infection rates. — Jon Reed

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Southern Utah

Kane County Goes Green

Kane County is moving to the green — the “new normal” risk level of pandemic response — Friday at 10 a.m. Bluff and Mexican Hat are moving to the “yellow” — low risk phase. There have been calls to move the entire state to green, but Governor Gary Herbert says there are no plans to do that yet. Public health officials said the state has seen sharp spikes in new cases in recent weeks and the risk of spread has never been higher. Utah’s department of health has reported more than 200 new daily cases of COVID-19 for the past two weeks. — Sonja Hutson


Calls To Dip Into The Rainy Day Fund

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday he plans to call the Legislature into a special session next week to amend the state’s budget in order to account for revenue loss because of the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers are looking to cut up to $1.3 billion, and the reductions could affect programs like Medicaid and education. So, community advocacy organizations are asking legislators to use the state’s rainy day funds instead. They’re concerned about the impacts to underserved Utahns if public health and other services are diminished. But state budget chair Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said they don’t want to tap into those funds because they might need them later. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Red Flag Warnings

Utah will have red flag conditions for wildfires Friday. The National Weather Service said the warning applies from noon to 9 p.m. for the Salt Lake Desert, Central Utah and Color Country West Deserts, the Grand Staircase and the Mojave Desert which includes part of Washington County. Gusty winds will blow out of the south/southwest at 15 to 25 mph, gusting to 35. The agency noted strong winds will continue Friday night over ridgelines and could continue through mid-day Saturday south of Interstate 80. — Diane Maggipinto

Follow KUER’s coverage of Utah’s 2020 Fire Season.


Navajo COVID Update

The Navajo Nation reported another 103 new COVID-19 cases as the number of total positives approaches 6,400. More than 20% of people living on the reservation have been tested, according to Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. The Navajo Dept of Health also reported six deaths, bringing that total to 298 as of Thursday afternoon. — Diane Maggipinto

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