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AM News Brief: Traffic Delays, Fireworks & No, The Irish Weren't Slaves

Traffic on Utah highway.
Istock.com / wsfurlan
Travelers along the Wasatch Front should expect heavy delays in the lead up to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, July 2, 2020

State

Fireworks And Bad Air

Setting off fireworks can mar Utah’s air quality. That’s the message from Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality. Officials at the Division of Air Quality say concentrations of particulate matter spike around the Fourth of July because of pollution from fireworks. With many larger, professional fireworks displays cancelled because of COVID-19, officials say they are especially concerned about an increase in what they call “front porch fireworks.” Groups like the elderly, young people and those with respiratory issues are advised to avoid areas near firework shows, stay indoors and close their windows. By Utah law, personal, Class C fireworks may only be used July 2 - 5 for Independence Day and July 22 - 25 for Pioneer Day. Other restrictions vary by county. Fireworks are never allowed on public land. — Caroline Ballard

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

Ten Percent Of Utahns Tested For COVID

Utah’s health department announced 499 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. That brings the state to more than 22,700 confirmed cases since the pandemic began. So far, about 10% of the state’s population has been tested for the disease. Health officials also announced one more death — a Salt Lake County man who was hospitalized when he died. — Ross Terrell

Weekend Traffic

Travelers along the Wasatch Front should expect heavy delays in the lead up to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. The Utah Department of Transportation said traffic is expected to peak Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and that drivers should plan accordingly. UDOT will mostly suspend construction projects for the weekend, but there may still be some restrictions in place to protect work zones and ensure driver safety. — Caroline Ballard

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Head Of Utah COVID Will Step Down To Take Legislative Seat

Major Gen. Jefferson Burton will step down as the head of Utah’s coronavirus response before he takes office in the state Legislature next year. Burton has about 60% of the votes in Utah’s House District 66 following Tuesday’s primary elections, and he faces no challengers in the general election. Burton said his experience responding to the pandemic will help his work in the Legislature, where he said he’ll look for ways to improve the state’s response to crises. He said the latest he’ll head up the coronavirus task force is through November. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

Dixie State University Open To Name Change

Leaders at Dixie State University in St. George are starting to talk about a name change. The name "Dixie" is often associated with slavery, and the college has faced scrutiny in the past over its name. Now as the nation re-exams symbols associated with the Confederacy, DSU is weighing its name's impact. They've resisted changing it because of its connection to the Mormon settlers who moved from the South to the St. George area in the 1800s. A decision likely won't come until the state legislative session opens next January, and university officials have made no decision on whether they'll recommend a change. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Scholars Say Irish Servitude Was Not Slavery

As Black Lives Matter rallies continue across our region, some counter protesters and militia members are giving new life to an old racist myth. It claims that white Irish people were enslaved in America just like Africans. But it isn’t true. A few years ago, more than 80 Irish scholars demanded that far-right publications stop spreading the lie. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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