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AM News Brief: Morgan County Election, Salt Lake City Schools & Massive Marijuana Bust

Photo of Welcome to Utah sign.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Two people face federal charges after law enforcement found more than 300 pounds of marijuana in a semi-truck in Utah. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, July 31, 2020

State

One Day To Go, Utah Closing In On August COVID Goal

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he’s pleased, but not ready to celebrate the recent decline of new COVID cases in the state. Health officials reported 502 new cases of the disease Thursday, bringing the state closer to its goal of 500 average daily cases by Aug. 1. Officials also announced nine more people died due to the disease. 300 Utahns have now passed away since the start of the pandemic. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Romney Introduces Legislation To Extend Federal Unemployment Assistance

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, introduced a bill Thursday to extend federal unemployment benefits for the next three months. As part of the CARES Act, some workers who are unemployed due to the pandemic received an extra $600 a week, but that expired earlier this month. In a press release, Romney said people who have relied on the extra money shouldn’t be “left in limbo” while Congress debates its next response to the pandemic. The legislation would authorize states to either immediately supply people with 80% of lost wages. Or, on a sliding scale, $500 a week in August which would drop to $300 a week in October. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

Morgan County Election Comes Down To … Drawing A Name?

A month after the June primary election, the Republican winner for a Morgan County Council seat was decided Thursday night. They didn’t get any new votes or do a recount — it came down to chance. To break a perfect tie, four local judges drew names out of a bowl. The County Clerk said the event, which hasn't happened in Utah in at least 30 years, was a reminder that every vote counts. — Sonja Hutson 

Salt Lake City Schools Approve Reopening Plans

Salt Lake City students will continue online learning when they go back to school Sept. 8. The city’s school district made the decision Thursday night. Larry Madden, the district’s superintendent, said remote learning will look different in the fall than it did when the coronavirus pandemic first closed schools. He said schools will have more resources to help with mental health. The district also has nearly 13,000 laptops to distribute to students who don’t have computers. As for in-person teaching, Salt Lake school officials said they will only move to hybrid learning if the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests in the county and the rolling 7-day average of new cases drop below a certain level. — Jessica Lowell

Officers Stop Semi Truck, Find 341 Pounds Of Marijuana

Two people face federal charges after law enforcement found more than 300 pounds of marijuana in a semi-truck in Utah. Officers found the drugs at the Utah Port of Entry along I-80 near Wendover. The truck registered as overweight when it passed through the port and officers found hundreds of packages of raw marijuana, more than a thousand THC cartridges, along with other edibles. The two people, from North Carolina and California, face charges of possession with intent to distribute. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Navajo Residents Still Depending On Food Assistance As COVID Declines

Many Utah Navajo residents are still out of work or are afraid to get their groceries in border towns in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico — where COVID cases are rising. So, the need for food assistance is great. The Utah Navajo Health System, which has been providing food for people since the pandemic began, is answering the call with ongoing food distribution events in Monument Valley and Montezuma Creek. Financial donations to the program have dropped since earlier this year and they are still relying on food donations. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Region/Nation

Fight For The Senate Is On

Democrats are pushing to turn the Senate blue this November, needing just four more seats. And two key races are in the Mountain West region — ini Colorado and Montana. Those both include an incumbent Republican facing off with a Democratic governor, or former governor. And both are still too tight to call — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau 

Utah’s Congressional Delegates Push Back On Meat Merger

Four of Utah’s Congressional delegates are challenging the buy-out of a meat processing plant in Greeley, Colorado. In a letter Wednesday to the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department, Republican Utah Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney and Republican Utah Reps. Chris Stewart and Rob Bishop said MSR is the second largest lamb packaging plant in the United States and that the Brazilian owned JBS food processing company intends to close down the Greeley operation. They joined other GOP senators and representatives to argue this would leave many western sheep ranchers without a way to process their lamb — and that it could put them out of business, costing the U.S. industry hundreds of millions of dollars every year. — Elaine Clark

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