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PM News Brief: Judge Michael Kwan Dies, Primary Elections Certified & Huntsman Cancer Institute

Photo of a building with large windows
The Huntsman Cancer Institute will receive $29 million in grant funding over the next seven years, after being designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Tuesday evening, July 21, 2020

NORTHERN UTAH

4,000 Acres Scorched In Raging Dennis Hill Fire

The Dennis Hill Fire, which started Monday afternoon, has now burned around 4,000 acres in Box Elder County and is 20% contained. Officials have been battling high winds since the fire started. There are currently six wildfires larger than 100 acres burning in Utah. A red flag warning is in place for much of the state due to dry thunderstorms and gusty winds. — Lexi Peery, St. George

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

Huntsman Cancer Institute Achieves Highest Designation

The Huntsman Cancer Institute will receive $29 million in grant funding over the next seven years, after being designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center. It comes from the National Cancer Institute and represents an increase in funding from the national institute of about 84% compared to previous years. The Huntsman Institute has been a Comprehensive Center since 2015, which is the highest federal designation a cancer research organization can receive. — Ross Terrell

Headshot of the judge
Utah State Courts

Taylorsville Judge Michael Kwan Dies

Taylorsville Judge Michael Kwan has died. His family found him unresponsive at home Tuesday morning. They later released a statement saying they are deeply saddened by his sudden passing but they have no further information on his death. Kwan served in Taylorsville since 1998 and is credited with starting one of the first DUI and drug courts in the nation. Last year, he was suspended for six months after making anti-Trump comments on social media. — Ross Terrell

SOUTHERN UTAH

Navajo Nation Census Response Rates Below 10%

In Utah, 62% of households have completed the 2020 Census. But that number drops below 10% on the Navajo Nation, where officials say COVID-19 has caused delays. Residents of the Navajo Nation can’t fill out the Census until they receive a packet with an ID number delivered to their door, and around 20% of the 76-thousand households on the reservation still have not received them. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

STATE

Rep. Candice Pierucci Dealing With COVID As New Cases Climb

Utah state Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Salt Lake City, tweeted Monday night that she and her family have COVID-19 and are quarantining at home. Pierucci said that she, her husband, and their 1-year-old son have symptoms — including loss of taste, cough, chills, fever and congestion. More than 35,000 people in Utah have tested positive for COVID-19 since early March. And state public health officials announced 486 new cases Tuesday. Over the past week, there’s been an average of 610 new cases per day. Gov. Gary Herbert said he wanted to get that number below 500 by Aug. 1 or he may implement stricter social distancing measures, including mandating face coverings in public. — Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

June Primary Elections Officially Certified

While races in Utah’s June primary election have been decided for more than a week, counties across the state are finalizing the results Tuesday. The final tallies confirmed races that had already been called. Overall turnout increased dramatically compared to the past two primaries. The number of ballots cast in the GOP gubernatorial primary doubled from 2016. Nearly twice as many ballots were cast in the Democratic Primary for the 1st Congressional District compared to 2018. — Sonja Hutson

REGION/NATION

New Pushback Against Trump’s Pendley Nomination

President Trump’s nomination of William Perry Pendley as head of the Bureau of Land Management is facing renewed pushback and a new lawsuit. Montana’s Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has filed a lawsuit to block Pendley from using the powers of BLM’s acting director. Meanwhile, Western Democratic senators, a representative for the Blackfeet tribe and environmental groups held a press call Tuesday denouncing Pendley’s history of opposition to federally-owned land and treatment of Tribes. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Correction 7/31/2020 9:54 a.m. MDT: A previous version of this story misnamed Judge Michael Kwan in the headline. We regret this error and have updated accordingly.

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