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PM News Brief: COVID Purgatory Cases, Keeping Dixie & Millard County Spike

Photo of a crowd of people standing outside
Lexi Peery
More than 200 protesters in favor of keeping the nickname "Dixie" for southwest Utah gathered outside St. George's City Hall Thursday morning. The protest was in response to an attempt by local leaders to change the name of the Dixie Convention Center.";

Thursday evening, July 2, 2020

STATE

Primary Voter Turnout? Pretty Good

County clerks in Utah are still counting ballots from Tuesday’s primary election. Utah’s Elections Director Justin Lee said, as of Thursday morning, around 100,000 ballots remain to be processed, and some could still be coming in the mail. He said it could take at least another week to finish counting, and maybe longer. Even without the totals, Lee said voter turnout has been good for a primary. The election was held almost entirely by mail, and he said that’s a big contributor to increased participation. Read the full story. — Emily Means

COVID Update And Unemployment Numbers

A little more than 5,000 Utahns filed new unemployment claims last week. That’s just a slight uptick from the week before, according to new numbers released Thursday by the state’s Department of Workforce Services. But, paid out state and federal benefits continue to hover around $71 million. Health officials also announced 554 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. Three more deaths were also reported. They were all men and two were not hospitalized at the time of their death. So far, men account for 60% of all COVID deaths in the state. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

SOUTHERN/CENTRAL UTAH

Protesters Push To Keep Dixie Nickname

Parts of Southwest Utah have recently been having conversations about moving away from the nickname “Dixie” because of its ties to the Confederacy. On Thursday morning, more than 200 protesters in favor of keeping the nickname gathered outside St. George’s City Hall. The protest was in response to an attempt by local leaders to change the name of the Dixie Convention Center earlier this week. — Lexi Peery

Millard County Officials Dealing With Outbreak

Millard County has become one of the latest coronavirus hotspots in Utah. The Delta-Fillmore area now has 41 cases and one hospitalization, and cases in the Central Utah region have about doubled over the last two weeks. The Central Utah Health Department said they couldn’t reveal exactly how people are catching the virus due to privacy concerns, but the trend mirrors what is happening statewide as restrictions loosen. It is working on getting masks to anyone who needs them and sending targeted messages for people to stay vigilant against the virus. — Jon Reed

92 Inmates At Purgatory With COVID-19

About a third of the inmate population at Washington County’s jail has tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak at Purgatory Correctional Facility started with three inmates on June 20 and has since spread to 92 inmates. Seven staff members have also tested positive. Jail officials said they’ll begin re-testing inmates who have already tested positive on Monday. — Lexi Peery

REGION/NATION

Tribes And Voting 

COVID-19 is disrupting the normal voting process this year. And that’s led to debates over mail-in ballots and voter access. Fourteen senators, including four from the Mountain West region, said that America needs to do more to help tribal voters this November. In a signed letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the senators called out the lack of in-person polling places for tribal voters. They are also asking that tribes not be left behind as election officials look to expand the use of mail-in ballots.— Noah Glick, Mountain West New Bureau

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