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PM News Brief: Eleven Bills Signed, COVID In The LatinX Community & Racial Equity And Policing

Photo of a woman speaking into a microphone
Emily Means
Darlene McDonald, chair of the Utah Black Roundtable, said at a press conference Thursday that changing police culture won't happen quickly.

Thursday evening, June 25, 2020

NORTHERN UTAH

No J-1 Visas Equals Fewer Foreign Worker For Utah’s Ski Resorts

Ski resorts in Utah that depend on seasonal foreign workers might have problems finding the labor they need this winter season, due to the recent suspension of certain work visas. Earlier this week the Trump administration suspended J-1 work visas, which allow foreign college students to work in the U.S. Lynn Ware Peek with the Park City Municipal Corporation said after the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restriction could create more strain for businesses. Read the full story. — Jessica Lowell

Salt Lake City Forms Commission On Racial Equity In Policing

Salt Lake City’s mayor announced Thursday the creation of a group that will address issues around race and policing. The move came in response to ongoing protests against racial injustice and police brutality. The city has set aside $100,000 to support the Commission on Racial Equity in Policing. Darlene McDonald, chair of the Utah Black Roundtable, one of the commission’s members, said changing police culture won’t happen quickly and that the institution of policing “must be uprooted and reformed to weed out the inherited systemic racism.” The commission will recommend changes to police funding and policies. — Emily Means

Salt Lake City Curfew Violations? No Worries. No Prosecution Coming

During late May’s protests in Salt Lake City against racial injustice and police brutality, dozens of people were arrested for failure to disperse and curfew violations. On Thursday, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office and Salt Lake City Prosecutor’s office said they will not prosecute those cases. Other charges like unlawful riot or injury to persons or property will be pursued. The district attorney and the prosecutor’s offices said these filings will be declined without prejudice and encourage law enforcement agencies to dedicate resources to more serious crimes. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said his office is dedicated to public safety and that that includes protecting those who peacefully exercise their right to protest. — Caroline Ballard

SOUTHERN UTAH

COVID-19 In Purgatory

Fifteen inmates at Washington County’s jail have tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak started last weekend when four inmates began showing symptoms of the virus. The county’s sheriff's office said as of Wednesday, over 100 inmates who may have been exposed have been tested and are in quarantine. Utah’s Department of Corrections website said there have been 14 other confirmed inmate cases at state correctional facilities and centers. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Navajo Nation Decides On CARES Spending

The Navajo Nation Council has recommended spending $93 million of $600 million of federal COVID-19 relief funding the tribe received in May. So far, the money has been held up by disagreements between the Nation’s legislative and executive branches. The legislation, which passed last week, directs the money toward immediate relief efforts, including food delivery and cash transfers to local governments. It still needs approval from the Navajo Nation’s President Jonathan Nez. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

STATE

Gov. Herbert Signs 11 Bills

Gov. Gary Herbert signed 11 bills Thursday that were passed during the Legislature’s special session last week. One bill bans law enforcement from kneeling on someone’s neck as a form of restraint, and one cuts around $850 million from the state’s budget. He signed another bill into law that requires the governor to inform the Legislature of some major purchases made using emergency powers within 24 hours. — Sonja Hutson

590 New COVID Cases And Utah Unemployment Numbers

Utah’s Department of Health announced 590 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. That brings the state to more than 19,000 confirmed cases of the disease. And last week, close to 5,000 new Utahns filed for unemployment benefits. That’s according to the latest numbers from the state’s Department of Workforce Services. That number is up slightly from the week before. From June 14 through the 20, Utah paid out more than $71 million in state and federal benefits. — Ross Terrell

“No Tengas Miedo” Health Officials Speak Directly To LatinX Community

Utah’s LatinX community accounts for 43% of Utah’s COVD-19 cases — but makes up only 14% of the state’s population. For the first time since the pandemic started, the state held a press conference Thursday to speak directly to that community. Mayra Cedano, with non-profit group Comunidades Unidas and a member of the COVID task force’s multicultural committee, told the immigrant community to not be afraid to get help. Cedano also outlined resources available for free health services and assistance for things like food and rent. — Elaine Clark

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

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