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PM News Brief: Jazz Star Calls For Justice, Eviction Moratoriums & Granite Schools Water Bottles

Photo of the Vivint SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City
Pablo via Flickr
The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to boycott their game Wednesday and Utah Jazz player Donovan Mitchell tweeted his support saying “we demand change.” That story and more in this evening's news brief.";s:

Wednesday evening, August 26, 2020

STATE

Jazz Star Demands Justice For Jacob Blake

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell is calling for justice following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. Video of the incident shows police following Blake while he walked to his car and then shooting him multiple times from behind as he leaned into the vehicle. Speaking after the Jazz’ playoff game in Orlando, Mitchell said this is bigger than basketball. “The common excuse is, ‘Oh he shouldn’t have not listened to the cops,’” Mitchell said. “You know, that doesn’t mean you deserve to be shot seven times. That’s just inexcusable and I think that’s really what we should focus on and what we need to focus on.” The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to boycott their game Wednesday and Mitchell tweeted his support saying “we demand change.” All NBA games have been called off for the day. — Ross Terrell

86 Fires Started Over The Past Week 

There have been 86 new fire starts over the last week in Utah and an uptick in lightning-caused ignitions, according to the state’s Division of Forestry, Fires and State Lands. But humans are still the driving force behind this year’s fire season, causing 77% of them. There are currently six wildfires bigger than 300 acres burning in Utah. Though storms over the weekend brought moisture to parts of the state, gusty winds and dry air are expected to return this week, as well as smoke from California wildfires. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Utah Eclipses 50,000 COVID Cases

Utah has passed the 50,000 mark for COVID-19 cases, after health officials reported another 407 Wednesday. That means the state has now had 50,174 cases since the start of the pandemic in early March. Utah also passed 400 deaths as four more people died from the disease. But, state Epidemiologist Angela Dunn said Utahns should be proud of the progress they’ve made in slowing the virus over the past month. She said hospitalizations, average daily cases and the positivity rate are all down since the beginning of August. — Ross Terrell

NORTHERN UTAH

Two Cities Pull Out Of UAMPS Amid Rising Costs

The Carbon Free Power Project involves a first-of-its-kind technology called “small modular nuclear reactors,” which would produce around 720 megawatts of nuclear energy. But the reactors are still in development, and it’s unclear how much the power— and the project — will cost. That is one reason the cities of Logan and Lehi decided to leave the project ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline to invest more money. Leaving the project means both cities lose the money they’ve put into it so far. And it’s unclear whether they will be able to purchase power from the plant, if and when it is completed. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Rally Planned For Eviction Moratorium

A renters solidarity organization plans to host a rally Wednesday evening in downtown Salt Lake City, calling for a freeze on evictions. Ian Decker with Wasatch Tenants United said renters who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic could have an even harder time finding a new place if they’re evicted. He said they “don’t trust in the mortality or good will of landlords in this city,” which is why they want the moratorium to protect people whose jobs or circumstances are uncertain. Utah’s eviction moratorium ended in May, while the federal eviction freeze expired at the end of July. But the state’s Department of Workforce Services has set up a rental assistance program to help people who have lost income due to the pandemic, and Salt Lake City announced Wednesday a new fundraising effort to help cover people’s expenses. — Emily Means

Park City Teachers Protest School District’s COVID-19 Plan

Park City teachers plan to protest at the school district’s Board of Education meeting Wednesday afternoon over concerns about its response to the coronavirus pandemic. After school started last week, Kevin Fober, a high school teacher, resigned after his classroom filled up with 30 students. He said his age and underlying issues put him at a high risk for COVID-19, so he was concerned about his safety with that number of students in class. The board is scheduled to vote on teacher raises at Wednesday’s meeting. On Monday, they sent a letter to educators saying that some public comments are “jeopardizing” the board’s ability to give teachers a raise. The rally is organized by Safe Utah Schools, a group that is advocating for more safety measures in classrooms across the state. — Emily Means

Granite School District Requests Reusable Water Bottles

The Granite Education Foundation is asking for donations of reusable water bottles to make sure students stay hydrated during the school day. Schools there have shut off drinking fountains for safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead opting for filling stations for water bottles. But according to the foundation, more than half of the children in the district live below the poverty line, meaning many don’t have the means to buy their own reusable bottles. — Caroline Ballard

REGION/NATION

Airline Decline Not As Stark In Utah 

The airline industry won’t fully recover from the economic toll of the pandemic until at least 2024. That’s according to a report out Wednesday from the industry group Airlines For America. While the number of travelers in airports is down by more than two-thirds in some places — Montana, Idaho and Utah are relative bright spots. Debate has stalled in Congress over a six month extension of a multi-billion dollar payroll protection program for the airline industry. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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