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PM News Brief: Google Doodle Finalist, Utah COVID Testing & Women’s Suffrage Memorial

Photo of the University of Utah's Sugarhouse Clinic with a COVID Testing sign.
Tricia Bobeda/KUER
Recent analysis from the New York Times found Utah is only testing at about 32% of where it needs to be in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, August 20, 2020

STATE

Utah Legislature Passes Elections Bill

The Utah Legislature approved a bill Thursday to require counties to hold in-person voting this November, which could include outdoor polling locations. There was no in-person voting during the June primary election, except in San Juan County and for people with disabilities, to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The bill expires in January 2021 and it now heads to the governor’s desk. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

The Governor Issues New State Of Emergency Declaration

Gov. Gary Herbert will issue a new state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic that will take effect Friday at midnight when the current declaration expires. It gives the governor expanded powers and makes it easier for Utah to qualify for federal aid. The Legislature opted not to extend the current order, saying it’s been in place for too long. But Herbert said it’s necessary and that if he didn’t issue one, Utah would be the only state of the 50 that would not have an emergency declaration in place during this pandemic. It’s set to expire after 30 days. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Is Utah Doing Enough Testing To Contain COVID?

Utah’s health department reported 461 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. So far, nearly 616,000 people in the state have been tested for the disease. But a recent analysis from the New York Times found Utah is only testing at about 32% of where it needs to be in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The state’s positivity rate remains around 9%, but 82% of cases here are considered recovered. — Ross Terrell

Ended Unemployment Claims In The State Rise

More than 7,400 Utahns ended their unemployment claims as of Aug. 8. That’s the third highest total since the start of the pandemic. Still, another 3,000 people filed for new benefits last week. But Utah has been approved for federal Low Wages Assistance. It allows the state to distribute an extra $300 in benefits for people who were already receiving them from July 26 through Aug. 15. Utahns who do qualify will receive payments automatically and do not have to apply. — Ross Terrell

SOUTHERN UTAH

Navajo Nation And Bluff Schools To Start Completely Online

All public school students in southern San Juan County will begin school at home this year. The school board voted to keep schools on the Navajo Nation and in Bluff closed for the first quarter, after over 90% of families in the region opted for distance learning. The district has also suspended programs that bus students from the Navajo Nation to schools in Blanding. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez urged schools on the reservation to remain closed and has suspended school sports for students across the Nation — which includes portions of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Blanding Resident Noah Begay A Google Doodle Finalist

A 12-year-old boy from Blanding is a finalist in a nationwide Google Doodle contest. Noah Begay's drawing won him a spot representing Utah among others from 54 states and territories. The contest asked K-12 students to reimagine the Google logo based on what kindness means to them. Begay’s drawing depicts one person lending another person a jacket in a winter scene. Then the giver becomes the receiver in a summer scene, accepting a water bottle from the other character. His drawing is in the 6th and 7th grade category — and voting closes Friday night. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

NORTHERN UTAH

Better Days 2020 Unveils Women’s History Memorial

The new Utah Women’s History Memorial is being unveiled this evening. It’s located outside the Salt Lake City Council Hall, just across from the State Capitol. The memorial is a bronze sculpture that features quotations by suffrage leaders, a table, chairs and the footprints of Seraph Young — who voted in Salt Lake City becoming the first woman to vote in the United States under an equal suffrage law. 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. — Caroline Ballard

REGION/NATION

Wildfire Smoke Could Worsen Effects Of Pandemic

Skies are smoky across the region thanks to the many wildfires burning in the West. We know smoke can cause health problems, like making you more prone to lung infections, and that’s especially concerning during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Public health experts recommend limiting your time outside and investing in a high quality air purifier. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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