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AM News Brief: Mural Defaced, COVID-19 Cases Up & Navajo Nation Police Officer Succumbs To Virus

Close up photo of the George Floyd mural.
Brian Albers/KUER
A Salt Lake City mural depicting George Floyd was defaced over the weekend.

Monday morning, June 22, 2020

STATE

Weekend Sees Jump In Utah COVID-19 Cases

Sunday marked the 12th straight day that Utah reported more than 300 daily cases of COVID-19. And Saturday saw another bleak record — 643 cases were reported — the highest one-day count since the outbreak in the state. There were no deaths reported on Saturday — but three Sunday. The Utah Department of Health said that two men died. One was in Utah County and the other in Washington county. Both were over 65 years old. A woman in Salt Lake County between the ages of 45 and 64 also died. She was hospitalized at the time of her death. Officials continue to urge people to wear face masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands often. — Elaine Clark

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

NORTHERN UTAH

George Floyd Mural Defaced For Second Time

A Salt Lake City mural depicting George Floyd was vandalized late Saturday night or early Sunday morning for the second time according to artists who worked on the project. They said someone threw black tar on the red, white and pink portrait of Floyd on 800 South and 300 West. The same thing happened last weekend. Artists quickly restored the mural to its original condition both times. The mural went up in early June, following protests of Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer. It’s surrounded by depictions of other people who have been killed by police here in Utah. Artists say the George Floyd mural is the only one that has been defaced. — Emily Means

Water Restriction Lifted In Tooele

Some residents of Tooele were ordered not to drink their culinary water over the weekend. City officials said a breach at a tank prompted the directive. On Saturday morning, they found fencing around tank #5 was cut, as was a padlock, which was dropped into the tank. After bacterial testing came back negative, the “do not drink” order was lifted Sunday. — Diane Magginpinto

REGION/NATION

Navajo Nation COVID-19 Cases

The weekend lockdown is now lifted on the Navajo Nation, where health officials reported one death and 27 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday. Saturday saw 69 additional cases, and Friday's afternoon report showed 62 new positives. The Nation also reported 10 deaths over those two days. Pres. Jonathan Nez issued an emergency order last week for the weekend curfew, in part because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Arizona. The Navajo Nation straddles Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. — Diane Maggipinto

Navajo Nation Police Officer Succumbs To COVID

A 50-year-old Navajo Nation police officer has died at a Phoenix hospital, becoming the first officer on the tribal police force to die from COVID-19 in the line of duty. Officer Michael Lee died Friday. Police Chief Phillip Francisco said the department is “devastated and heartbroken” by Lee's death. Lee, a husband and father, served 29 years after being recruited for the Navajo Police Academy in 1990. — Diane Maggipinto

Colorado Sees Decline In COVID Cases

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 are surging in every state in our region except for in Colorado. Public health experts say there’s no definitive answer as to why the Centennial state is the exception, although Colorado is ahead of the region in terms of testing and contract tracing. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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