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PM News Brief: Mail-in Voting, Salt Lake Police Shooting & Utah’s July Unemployment

Photo of a ballot on a mailbox
Renee Bright
/
KUER
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney questioned Postmaster General Louis DeJoy about President Trump’s recent comments in front of the Senate Homeland Security committee Friday. That story and more in this evening’s news brief.";s:

Friday evening, August 21, 2020

STATE

Nonprofits Struggling To Stay Afloat During Pandemic

Along with many businesses, non-profit organizations have been struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. A recent survey from the Utah Nonprofit Association found that about 26% of Utah organizations don’t think they can survive much longer. Grants and donations have dried up, and in-person fundraising events have gone virtual. It’s forced some to start collaborating to find creative solutions. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Romney Questions Postmaster General Of U.S. Postal Service 

Mail-in voting ahead of November’s election has been a hot button issue, with President Trump claiming it could lead to widespread voter fraud. Though studies have shown there is no evidence of that. Friday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security committee, where Utah Sen. Mitt Romney questioned him about the president’s comments. “You can certainly understand that there have been reasons for people to think that you and your colleagues are purposefully acting to suppress voting, or that you will try to prevent ballots from being counted,” Romney said. But DeJoy said he is “highly confident” that any ballots cast within a week of Election Day will be counted. The U.S. Postal Service also launched a new Election Mail website that will give voters information leading up to November. — Ross Terrell

Utah Had Lowest July Unemployment Rate In The U.S.

For the month of July, Utah had the lowest unemployment rate in the country at just 4.5% — compared to the national rate of about 10%. That’s according to numbers released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Utah also ranked second in the country for job growth in the private sector and overall. As for COVID-19, state health officials reported 463 new cases Friday. Two more Utahns have died due to the disease. Both were Salt Lake County men over the age of 65. There are currently 129 people hospitalized for COVID. — Ross Terrell

NORTHERN UTAH

Salt Lake DA Releases Findings From January Police Shooting

A Salt Lake City officer will not face criminal charges after shooting a suspect who investigators said tried to run him over. Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill ruled Friday that Officer Jordan Winegar was justified in shooting Tyler K. Webster in early January. Body camera footage showed Winegar approaching Webster in a suspected stolen car. The officer opened the passenger door and tried to use a Taser, which did not work. As Webster tried to flee, still in the car, the passenger door hit Winegar pushing him into a guardrail, which is when he shot Webster twice. The investigation found that Winegar feared he would have been crushed if he had not used deadly force. Webster is currently awaiting trial on Sept. 24 for assault of a police officer, failing to respond to a police command and theft. — Jessica Lowell

Clear Masks From Salt Lake City Could Be En Route

Mayor Erin Mendenhall said Salt Lake City is working to get clear masks to help the hearing impaired. Mendenhall, along with state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, answered a number of questions from Utahns during a virtual conversation Friday. The mayor said she understands some people rely on reading lips and being able to see what a person is saying. And people are required to wear a face covering in Salt Lake in certain public settings through the end of the year. Mendenhall said the city has a budget amendment to fund purchasing and distributing the clear devices. — Ross Terrell

Utah County Cuts Ribbon On Cannabis Pharmacy

State and local officials held a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday for Utah’s 5th medical cannabis pharmacy, Deseret Wellness. It’s set to open in downtown Provo Aug. 31 and will be one of four pharmacies in Utah County. The county currently has 44% of the state’s 8,800 registered cannabis card holders — the most in the state. The nine remaining pharmacies are expected to open by the end of the year. The four open now are in Salt Lake City, Logan, Bountiful and Ogden. — Jon Reed

Protests And Marches Scheduled Around Salt Lake City 

Several demonstrations are scheduled to be held around Salt Lake City this weekend. Saturday morning, a walk to raise awareness for human trafficking and exploitation will take place at Liberty Park at 9. And at 9:30 a.m., the National Association of Letter Carriers and a number of advocacy groups will demonstrate in front of the downtown Salt Lake City post office. Saturday evening there is a march against Salt Lake County’s district attorney and his handling of previous protests. And Sunday evening at 5, there is a socially distanced march and dance party at Riverside Park in honor of Jovany Mercado, who was shot by Ogden police in 2019. — Caroline Ballard

REGION/NATION

Two Lawsuits Filed To Remove Head Of Bureau of Land Management

William Perry Pendley’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management may be pulled, but he’s still effectively leading the organization. And two lawsuits are still trying to put that to an end. Montana’s Democratic governor, and senate hopeful, Steve Bullock filed one. And the Western Watersheds Project and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER, filed the other. However, some suspect that political pressures may result in Pendley’s removal before either suit is resolved. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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