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AM News Brief: Protest Arrest, Morgan County Election Tie & Fireworks Common Sense

Photo of fireworks at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City.
Mike Renlund via Flickr
Governor Gary Herbert is urging Utahns to be “extra cautious” with fireworks this Pioneer Day as the state experiences a historic fire season. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.";s:

  Friday morning, July 24, 2020

STATE

Back To School Plans In Utah

With the start of a new school year less than a month away for some of Utah’s public schools, most have at least a rough plan for what their returns will look like. Given that most of Utah is in the yellow or green risk phases of the state’s pandemic response, nearly all 41 public districts are planning on students returning to the classroom. Most are returning to a regular Monday to Friday schedule, and all are providing online options for those who need or choose to stay home. Following a recent statewide mandate, both students and teachers will have to wear masks at school and on buses, unless they can stay 6 feet apart or have a medical condition that prevents them from wearing one. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Teachers Call For Protections

More than 150 educators gathered outside Utah's Capitol building Thursday to call for stronger protections against the coronavirus for schools when they reopen this fall. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, teachers wore cloth face masks during the protest and stood socially distanced from each other on the lawn. Some of them held signs that read "I can teach from a distance but not from a casket" and "don't kill us." One elementary school teacher says the classroom itself makes her feel unsafe because the windows don't open and desks are only a foot apart from each other. — Associated Press

Thursday’s COVID Numbers

Utah’s department of health reported 521 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. The state’s seven-day average is now just under 600 new daily cases. Health officials also reported seven more deaths. Six people were residents of long term care facilities and five were over the age of 85. So far, Utah has seen 36,099 cases of the disease, and 485,422 people have been tested. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Herbert Urges Common Sense Fireworks

Governor Gary Herbert is urging Utahns to be “extra cautious” with fireworks this Pioneer Day. His warning comes as the state experiences a historic fire season with over 80% of them being human caused. During a press conference earlier this week, Herbert reminded people to use common sense this weekend. For more information about local restrictions, the governor said visit the state fire marshal website. — Lexi Peery

NORTHERN UTAH

Another Arrest In Police Car Arson

Authorities have arrested a third person for his involvement in the destruction of a police car during the May 30 protests in Salt Lake City against police brutality. The FBI announced Thursday that agents arrested 28-year-old Christopher Rojas last Friday. He's been charged with one count of arson. Video of the incident shows a man identified as Rojas lighting a piece of fabric. Another person threw the fabric onto the vehicle — catching it on fire. Rojas faces 20 years in prison — with a mandatory five-year sentence if found guilty. Federal arson charges are also pending against Jackson Patton, 26, and Latroi Newbins, 28. All three are from Salt Lake City. — Elaine Clark

Drawing Lots In The Morgan County Council Race

With primary election results certified across the state, there's officially a tie in Morgan County. Republican candidates Jared Anderson and Cindy Carter were vying for their party’s nomination to run for a seat on the county’s Council District 3. Each collected 541 votes according to the Morgan County Clerk’s office. Utah's State Code outlines the rules for a tie-breaker, and a press release from the Utah Courts said it’s been more than a generation since this has happened. Judges from Utah's Second Judicial District have the option to make the decision "in whatever manner the judges determine." They’ll meet on Monday to draw lots to decide the winner. — Roddy Nikpour

REGION/NATION

Trust — Not Fraud — At Risk With Mail-In Ballots

President Donald Trump continues to talk about his perceived dangers of mail-in ballots. That’s as a resurgence in COVID-19 could mean more mail-in ballots in November. In the Mountain West, Utah and Colorado automatically mail ballots to voters. And the rest of the region allows for absentee voting without giving a reason. Experts dispute the president’s claims, but many fear Trump’s statements and expected delays in counting mail-in votes could lead to some rejecting the election’s outcome. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Wall of Moms Albuquerque

In response to the Trump administration’s plan to send federal agents to Albuquerque, local activists started a Facebook group called “Wall of Moms Albuquerque.” In less than 48 hours, they had more than 2,800 members. They were inspired by a Portland Moms’ group that’s been standing between law enforcement and Black Lives Matter protesters for the past few days. Group leaders say the moms will only go to protests when asked by leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and emphasize that the Moms don’t speak for people of color. Local Wall of Moms groups are following Portland’s lead in many cities — from Denver to Seattle to Chicago.— Amanda Peacher, Mountain West News Bureau

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