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AM News Brief: USPS Cuts And Mail-In Ballots, Record Breaking Heat & Weekend Protests

Photo of a post office box full of mail.
Wikimedia Commons
New leadership is cutting costs at the U.S. Postal Service in a way that’s backing up mail around the country. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.";

Monday morning, August 3, 2020


Weekend COVID Update

Utah state health officials reported almost a thousand new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the state’s total to 41,175. Over the last week, there has been an average of 447 new cases per day and the positivity rate has remained around 10%. That’s up almost a whole percentage point from two weeks ago.

The state health department also reported this weekend that 7 more people have died from COVID-19. One coronavirus death was reported Sunday, which brings the mortality rate for a seven-day period to the highest since the pandemic outbreak began in March. A total of 37 deaths were recorded in one week, exceeding the previous high of 32 from the week prior. — Sonja Hutson

Special Education Funding

Right now, public schools get funding for special education based on how many kids attended the school two years ago. A bill introduced in the 2020 general session by Rep. Marsha Judkins, R-Provo, would have changed that to one year ago. It received near-unanimous support in both the House and Senate, but it would have cost the state nearly $10 million and it wasn’t included in the final budget passed in mid-March. Now, she is trying again. Judkins has asked attorneys for the Legislature to re-draft the bill for next year’s general session that starts in January. Read the full storySonja Hutson

Economic Vs. Public Health

Utah’s state government prioritized economic health over public health when reopening businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an article from ProPublica. Lisa Song is one of the co-authors. In a recent interview with KUER’s RadioWest, Song said public officials decided to reopen the economy based mainly on the health system’s capacity. She said it can be hard to calculate capacity though because cases increase exponentially. As of Sunday, there were 203 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, but new daily cases across the state have begun to decline. — Jessica Lowell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Record Breaking Heat

If you spent anytime outside this weekend, you know one thing: it was a scorcher. In fact many cities in Utah broke temperature records Sunday. In Salt Lake City, it got up to 105 degrees, setting a new record high for Aug. 2 for the first time since 1992. Thirteen cities from Ogden down to Spanish Fork either set or tied new marks for their hottest day. But the National Weather Service says a break from the heat should arrive by mid-week. However, two cooling centers in Salt Lake County will remain open until Friday. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Silent Majority Rally

About 100 people gathered on the Utah State Capitol lawn Saturday evening as part of a Silent Majority Unity Rally. It featured speakers like 4th Congressional District candidate Burgess Owens. The idea was to empower the quote "Silent Majority" to speak out against “cancel culture” and the far-left. — Sonja Hutson

Cottonwood Heights Protest Gets Heated

During a “March for Justice” in Cottonwood Heights Sunday, police used what appeared to be pepper spray and detained some protestors according to videos posted on social media. One video from Cottonwood Heights city councilmember Tali Tally Bruce showed people marching in the street in a residential neighborhood. Police arrived and attempted to clear the road and things escalated. In one video, officers have protesters detained and sitting on the sidewalk and sprayed someone with what looked to be pepper spray. Bruce also posted on Facebook after the event that she was going to get medical care after being punched and shoved by an officer. Cottonwood Heights Police have yet to respond to KUER’s request for comment. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Remembering Actor Wilford Brimley

Actor Wilford Brimley, 85, died Saturday in the hospital in St. George. Brimley was born in Salt Lake and split his time between Utah and Wyoming. Brimley dropped out of school at 14 and worked as a cowboy in the west before joining the Marines, according to his obituary in the New York Times. His first stint in Hollywood was shoeing horses for television shows and movies. With no formal training, he was cast as Horace Brimley in a recurring role on the tv series “The Waltons.” Brimley was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His wife and 4 sons survive him. — Diane Maggipinto


USPS Cuts And Mail-In Ballots

New leadership is cutting costs at the U.S. Postal Service in a way that’s backing up mail around the country. Many are concerned that could affect November’s mail-in ballots in our region. But some votes would be affected more than others here. For example, voters in Nevada will just have to post their ballot by election day, regardless of when it arrives. But many others require ballots come in by election night, which means election officials are urging people to send those ballots back as soon as possible. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Navajo Nation Approves Coronavirus Spending Bill

Lawmakers on the Navajo Nation have approved a massive spending bill to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation includes money for water projects, power lines, broadband and casino employees who no longer are receiving paychecks. The Navajo Nation Council passed the more than $650 million measure late Friday after discussing it over a three-day special session. The money comes from the Navajo Nation's share of $8 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding that was set aside for tribes. Navajo President Jonathan Nez has 10 days to act on the bill once it reaches him. — Associated Press

Arizona Congressman Positive FOR COVID-19

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ, has tested positive for COVID-19. Grijalva chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. He replaced Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop following a wave of Democrativ wins in the election two years ago. Grijalva said he sat next to another committee member — Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, who also tested positive. Both said they have no symptoms, but Grijalva said he thinks some congressional representatives aren't taking the health crisis seriously. “Numerous Republican members routinely strut around the Capitol without a mask,” he said, “to selfishly make a political statement at the expense of their colleagues, staff and their families.” Grijalva said stopping the spread of the deadly virus ought not be a partisan issue. Grijalva is at least the 11th member of Congress known to have tested positive for the coronavirus, and is self-isolating in quarantine. — Diane Maggipinto

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