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AM News Brief: Mask Meeting Packed, Kids And Covid & What Starting A Fire Costs The Guilty Party

Photo of crowded meeting room.
Utah County Commission Meeting Screenshot
Utah County commissioners postponed a meeting Wednesday where they were expected to discuss mask mandates after people packed the room and ignored social distancing guidelines. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, July 16, 2020

State

Collecting COVID Data

Throughout the pandemic, state and local health departments have been keeping close track of coronavirus patients. The data is needed to get a better sense of who is contracting the virus and why. But Utah and other states aren’t always able to collect all they need, both because the data goes through many different layers or people don’t provide it. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Kids And COVID

Utah health professionals and school officials are weighing in on how schools can safely resume in-person classes this fall. Voices for Utah Children, an advocacy group, hosted the second part of a web series Wednesday to discuss kids and COVID-19. Dr. Miguel Knochel, a panelist on the series, said testing every student and buying face shields are all expensive and likely unnecessary. He said schools have limited resources so they should enforce social distancing and wearing masks. He also said remote learning has affected childrens’ brain development, so health officials need to create a practical plan to resume in-person classes. — Jessica Lowell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Starting A Wildfire Will Cost You

This year, Utah fire officials have responded to almost 700 wildfires — and over 80% have been started by humans. If a person is convicted of causing a fire they can face criminal charges and may be responsible for paying for allsuppression costs. That includes things like personnel time, aircrafts and meals for firefighters, which can add up quickly, according to Utah Fire spokesperson Jason Curry. He said Utah County’s Pole Canyon Fire, which is human caused and has burned nearly 500 acres since Wednesday afternoon, will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to suppress. — Lexi Peery

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

Northern Utah

Mask Meeting Packed By Maskless Public

Utah County commissioners postponed a meeting Wednesday where they were expected to discuss mask mandates after people packed the room and ignored social distancing guidelines. Fox 13 reports that the commissioners cited public safety concerns as the reason for abruptly canceling the meeting. Commissioner Bill Lee had proposed writing a letter to the county's health director, directing him to ask state officials for a "compassionate exemption" from the mandate. A vote on that was postponed. Video footage shows the meeting was packed with people who opposed the mandate, very few of whom were wearing masks. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

Turkey Farm Road Fire Grows To Nearly 12,000 Acres

Firefighters are battling a wildfire north of St. George that authorities say was sparked by illegal fireworks. The fire had grown to nearly 19 square miles and was 25% contained as of Wednesday afternoon. The St. George Spectrum reports authorities are searching for three teenage males spotted driving away from the area where the fire started on Monday. — Bob Nelson

Region/Nation

Free Legal Aid For Small Businesses

One law group in our region is the latest to join a national effort to provide free legal advice and resources for business owners navigating the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic forced small businesses to deal with a lot of challenges like HR issues, furloughs, applying for loans and grants, and negotiating contracts. At least one Idaho-based law firm is joining up with a national program where lawyers give pro bono consults to small businesses.Nationally, more than 9 out of 10 businesses surveyed after the fact report that the consultation is helpful. — Amanda Peacher, Mountain West News Bureau

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