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PM News Brief: Utah Shakespeare Festival, Fire Suppression Costs & Salt Lake West Nile Virus

An outdoor theater is perched on a pavilion underneath a blue, partly cloudy sky.
Courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival
The Utah Shakespeare Festival has announced the lineup for its 2021 summer season. This story and more in the Monday afternoon news brief.

Monday evening, August 17, 2020

STATE

An Extra $21.5 Million Requested For Fire Suppression Costs

The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands expects to request an additional $21.5 million for fire suppression costs this year. Brian Cottam, the division’s director, presented to a legislative appropriations subcommittee Monday and said when it comes to how many fires have been started by people, this year has been staggering. Utah is on track to have more fires than the 2018 season, which Cottam called historically bad. — Lexi Peery, St. George

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

Teachers Look For PPE, State Says It’s On The Way

As districts in Utah gear up for reopening over the next two weeks, some teachers are expressing concerns that they won’t have enough protective equipment and cleaning supplies to keep their classrooms safe. Officials from the Utah State Board of Education say they’ve set aside a little over $3.5 million dollars to buy protective equipment and cleaning supplies for public schools, focusing on the hardest to get items such as thermometers and hand sanitizer. But many items have been delayed because of high demand nationwide. Read the full story.Jon Reed

First Novel Coronavirus Case In U.S. Minks Found In Utah

The U.S. has its first cases of the novel coronavirus in minks after it was found in the animals on two farms in Utah. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday, five animals between both farms tested positive for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. Dean Taylor, the state’s veterinarian, said their approach right now is going to be a quarantine. Taylor said there isn’t a high risk of the virus spreading from animals to humans, though staff members at the farms have tested positive for COVID-19. Read the full story.Ross Terrell

New COVID Cases Down, Positivity Rate Rises

Utah health officials reported 242 new cases of COVID-19 Monday. Though the number of new cases announced has dropped every day since Friday, the rolling average positivity rate for the past week has climbed to nearly 10%. Officials also announced two more people have died due to the disease — both were older than 65 and hospitalized at the time of their death. So far, nearly 602,000 people have been tested and 139 are currently hospitalized. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

NORTHERN UTAH

West Nile Virus Found In Salt Lake County Mosquitos 

The West Nile Virus has been detected in several Salt Lake County mosquito pools by the county health department. Health officials said it’s a good reminder to use bug spray with DEET, drain any standing water around your home and wear long sleeves and pants after dusk when mosquitoes are most active. West Nile Virus can cause symptoms like fever, body aches and disorientation. The most serious cases are neuroinvasive and can cause death. There are currently no confirmed human cases of the disease in the county. Last year, Utah had 21 diagnosed cases and one death. — Caroline Ballard

SOUTHERN UTAH

2021 Utah Shakespeare Festival Tickets Go On Sale

The Utah Shakespeare Festival has announced the lineup for its 2021 summer season as tickets went on sale Monday. Among its Shakespearean offerings will be Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, Pericles and Cymbeline. For musicals, it will produce Ragtime and The Pirates of Penzance. And for contemporary plays, there will be Intimate Apparel and The Comedy of Terrors. Some of the plays on next year’s docket were meant to be performed this summer, but the Cedar City festival’s 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Next year will be its 60th anniversary, and the season will be dedicated to festival founder Fred C. Adams, who died in February. — Caroline Ballard

Fishlake National Forest Fire Restrictions

New fire restrictions are in place for Fishlake National Forest in south-central Utah. Starting or maintaining a fire outside of a fire structure is prohibited, as is smoking outside of buildings, cars, developed recreation areas or designated areas. The order went into effect Monday morning and will continue until the end of September, or until it is rescinded by the U.S. Forest Service. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Fishlake National Forest is experiencing severe to extreme drought. — Caroline Ballard

REGION/NATION

Saliva Testing Becoming More Widespread

If you’ve gotten tested for COVID-19, you’ve probably had a nasal swab. But saliva-based exams may become more widespread. That’s because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to the rapid, saliva-based method developed by the Yale School of Public Health. That means other diagnostic labs can now use it. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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