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PM News Brief: Utah's Governor's Race, U Football Coach & COVID Purgatory Cases

Photo of the University of Utah football stadium
Brian Albers
The University of Utah will keep football coach Morgan Scalley on its staff after an investigation into his use of a racial slur in 2013, but as part of his punishment he will forego a raise that would've doubled his salary.

Wednesday evening, July 1, 2020


Governor’s Race Coming Down To The Wire

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox had a slight lead in the Republican race for governor, as of late Wednesday afternoon. He was about 11,600 votes ahead of former Gov. Jon Huntsman. The other two candidates, former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes and former Utah Republican party chair Thomas Wright, conceded earlier Wednesday. It could be days before there’s a clear winner. Counties are still counting ballots and won’t even begin processing some that were cast during Tuesday’s Election Day, until Wednesday night, due to COVID-19. The winner of the Republican primary will go on to face Democrat Chris Peterson in November. Utah hasn’t elected a Democratic governor in 40 years. — Sonja Hutson

FiveThirtyEight Says Utah Handled Primary Election Well

Utah, along with two other states, held primary elections Tuesday. According to the polling and political news website FiveThirtyEight, all three had protocols due to COVID-19, and elections happened without a hitch, for the most part. Utah and Colorado relied mainly on mail-in voting, while Oklahoma had more in-person voting, but with safety precautions like social distancing and protective barriers. FiveThirtyEight said with the general election coming up in November, these primaries indicate voting can be done successfully during a pandemic. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Nears 23,000 COVID Cases

More than 200 of Utah’s long-term care facilities have now had at least one confirmed case of COVID-19. In fact, across the state, 544 residents living in these facilities like nursing homes have tested positive for the disease. But it’s not just affecting residents. About 460 workers have also tested positive for COVID-19. So far, Utah, as a whole, has now had more than 22,700 confirmed cases. And 173 people here have died as a result of the virus. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.


Mainstay In State Legislature Lyle Hillyard Upset In Primary

In a stunning upset, state Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, has been ousted by a political newcomer after 35 years in the Utah Senate and nearly 40 years in the state legislature. Hillyard trailed businessman Chris Wilson by about 25% as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. Both Hillyard and Wilson said a controversial tax reform bill that Hillyard sponsored in December contributed to the election results. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

The U Keeps Coach Who Made Racial Slur, Cuts His Pay In Half

The University of Utah will keep football coach Morgan Scalley on its staff after an investigation into his use of a racial slur in 2013. The U released its findings Wednesday from a third-party investigation into Scalley’s behavior. Some former black student athletes alleged he made racially charged comments toward them in isolated incidents, while others former players defended him. Scalley denied doing so but did admit to making a racial joke about Native Americans. Last December, he signed a contract extension that would’ve bumped his salary up to $1.1 million, but as part of his punishment he will forego that raise and keep his 2018 compensation of $525,000. The University also rescinded its verbal offer to him of “head-coach-in-waiting.” — Ross Terrell


59 Confirmed COVID Purgatory Cases

There are now 59 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among inmates at Washington County’s jail. The outbreak started with three inmates testing positive as of June 20 and has since spread throughout the prison, including to staff. Officials said the jail is well below capacity, but it’s difficult to maintain all public health guidelines, like social distancing. Around 14 inmates who have tested positive for COVID-19 have shown symptoms, and one high-risk individual was hospitalized for a couple hours. — Lexi Peery, St. George


Church Reopenings And Their Impact On COVID

Churches were among the first places to welcome people back as the Mountain West region reopened. Now, some have become the center of COVID-19 outbreaks. Churchgoers are more susceptible than groups like protesters because many are in an enclosed space, which initial science said significantly increases your chances of spreading the virus. Singing has also been shown to be an efficient way to transport the virus into the air, possibly infecting others.— Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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