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AM News Brief: Granite Elementary Schedule, 100+ Temps & Romney On Mail-In Ballots

Photo of students in masks taking a test.
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The Granite School Board made a last minute change to back-to-school plan for elementary schools. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, August 17, 2020

State

Romney Says Attack On Mail-In Voting Is An Attack On Democracy

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said attacks on the vote-by-mail system are threatening global democracy. He stopped short of criticizing the president, who has openly opposed an expected surge of mail-in ballots. Romney said the United States must stand as an example to more fragile democratic nations to show that elections can be held in a free and fair manner. He urged the federal government to make every effort to ensure that people are able to vote in the general election this November. — Associated Press

100+ Temps Blanket State

An excessive heat warning has been issued through Wednesday night for large swaths of Utah. Dangerously hot conditions in the southern part of the state with average high temperatures topping 110 each afternoon. The warning also applies to the Wasatch Front, Salt Lake and Tooele Valleys, the Great Salt Lake desert and mountains. Temperatures will sizzle in the range of 100 to 105 degrees. There’s also a heat advisory through Wednesday for Cache Valley, Wasatch Mountain Valleys, Western Uinta Basin, Sanpete & Sevier Valleys with average temperatures of 100 degrees. — Diane Maggipinto

Daily COVID Average Remains Below 400

Utah health officials reported 676 people tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend — with a daily average of 357 positive cases for the past week. Officials also announced Saturday that three more people died due to the disease, including a female between the age of 25 and 44. So far, almost 600,000 people have been tested for COVID, and 164 are currently hospitalized. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Granite Changes Elementary Schedule

The Granite School Board made a last minute change to back-to-school plan for elementary schools. The plan was for junior high and high school students to not attend in-person classes on Fridays, giving teachers more time to prepare their online coursework. But after a request from the teacher’s union, the board adopted the same schedule for elementary schools. A recent poll of teachers in the district found almost 70% don’t feel safe returning to the classroom. Granite’s first day of classes is Aug. 24. — Jon Reed

Region/Nation

Trump To Withdraw Nomination For BLM Chief

President Donald Trump intends to withdraw the nomination of William Perry Pendley to head the Bureau of Land Management according to a White House senior official. The news was cheered by conservationists who insisted the longtime advocate of selling federal lands should not be overseeing them. Pendley is a former oil industry and property rights attorney from Wyoming who has been leading the Bureau of Land Management for more than a year under a series of temporary orders from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. Democrats alleged the temporary orders were an attempt to skirt the nomination process. Conservation groups and Montana's governor have filed lawsuits to have Pendley removed from office. — Associated Press

Heat Wave Harvey?

Heat waves have been the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. for the last 30 years according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But unlike tropical storms, heat waves are unnamed. One group, the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance, says naming heat waves would increase the attention paid to them and hopefully save lives. Read the full story. — Noah Glick, Mountain West News Bureau

Navajo Nation Reopening

Tourist destinations on the Navajo Nation, such as Canyon de Chelly, will welcome back visitors Monday, Aug. 17. The tribe is gradually reopening the reservation following a shutdown in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The plan allows parks and marinas to reopen with safeguards. Businesses can operate at limited capacity. The Navajo Health Department notes the phased approach is “based on facts, science, and data.” Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the Navajo Nation won't rush to fully reopen though. Sunday he rescinded the “Stay at Home” public health order and replaced it with a new "Safe at Home" order. That extends a daily curfew and weekend lockdown hours, keeps the Navajo Nation roads closed to visitors, and outlines requirements for "Drive-In" gatherings for such events as funerals and religious services. — Diane Maggipinto

Lawsuit Challenges Navajo General Election

A member of the Navajo Nation is suing the tribal government to try to force a primary election that was canceled because of the coronavirus. Eloise Brown alleges that tribal officials don't have the authority to alter election dates, and says that power is reserved for the Navajo people. The lawsuit seeks to postpone the November general election until a primary election can be held. The Tribal Council approved legislation to cancel the Aug. 4 primary. Navajo President Jonathan Nez vetoed the measure and the Council overturned that, sending all candidates to the general election ballot for races to be decided by plurality vote. Brown is seeking re-election as a grazing official in New Mexico. — Associated Press

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