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PM News Brief: Salt Lake City To Yellow, Teaching About Police & Five Months Of Wildfire Starts

Photo of Peavin Canyon Fire.
Courtesy U.S. Forest Service
Utah’s wildfire streak continues as the state has seen at least one new ignition every day since April 18. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, September 2, 2020


Will Federal Eviction Moratorium Make A Difference In Utah?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new federal eviction moratorium set to last until the end of the year. But Paul Smith with the Utah Apartment Association said he doesn’t think it’s needed in the state. He cited the state’s unemployment rate and the number of rental assistance programs available to tenants. Smith said even if tenants can’t afford rent, they shouldn’t need to skip payments. Utah has set aside $20 million to help people with rent, and housing advocates say if you’re falling behind work with your landlord to set up a payment plan. — Ross Terrell

New Wildfire Start Every Day For Nearly Five Months

Utah’s wildfire streak continues as the state has seen at least one new ignition every day since April 18 and 68 alone in the past week. That’s according to the latest numbers from Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. As of Aug. 30, more than 207,000 acres have been burned by wildfires. Humans continue to be the largest cause as they have started 75% of this year’s fires. — Ross Terrell

Salt Lake City Shifting To Yellow Phase Of Pandemic Response

Salt Lake City is expected to move to the yellow, low risk phase of the coronavirus pandemic response this Friday. That means people will be able to gather in groups of up to 50 but should still practice social distancing by staying six feet apart and wearing face masks in public. Salt Lake is the only city still in the orange, moderate risk phase. But its average rate of new daily cases has slowed since early August thanks in large part to a county-wide mask mandate which is in place through the end of the year. Statewide, Utah health officials reported 419 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. That brings the state to nearly 53,000 total cases since the start of the pandemic. — Ross Terrell

Fraternal Order Of Police Wants Teachers To Stay Neutral

The Utah Fraternal Order of Police sent a letter Tuesday asking for the Utah State Board of Education to denounce teachers who express anti-police sentiment in the classroom. According to the letter, an elementary school teacher wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt and made comments about law enforcement that upset a student whose parent is an officer. The union said that anything related to police should be treated like politics, and that teachers should remain neutral in front of their students. In Utah’s core standards, students begin learning about government and civics in second grade. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Nearly Half A Million Dollars Going Toward Food Insecurity In Salt Lake County

Mayor Jenny Wilson announced Wednesday that Salt Lake County will funnel $450,000 in federal CARES Act funding towards fighting food insecurity and supporting restaurants hit hard by the pandemic. The money is headed to the Nourish to Flourish program, which purchases food from local restaurants and supplies it to service organizations that feed Utahns in need. Wilson said this kind of work is a silver lining to the tragedy of the pandemic. The money from the county will provide more than 60,000 meals by the end of the year. There are currently seven restaurants providing 3,600 hundred meals a week, including Pulp Kitchen, Greek Souvlaki, Moochies and Spice Kitchen Incubator. — Elaine Clark

Daggett County Gets Hooked On Fiber

Daggett County in Northeast Utah is now connected to high-speed, broadband internet through 68-miles of fiber-optic infrastructure. The project took three years and cost $6 million. Laying some of the cables required extensive work along Highway 191 through the Uinta Mountain Range. Utah Education and Telehealth Network was one of the main partners in the effort. Its Associate Director Matt McCullough said it will help better connect that part of the state to telehealth and distance learning. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Navajo Nation Census Response Rates Lagging Behind Utah’s

The Navajo Nation’s Census response rate is lagging far behind the rate for the rest of Utah as only 18% of households on the Nation have filled out the Census so far, compared to 69% statewide. Most residents of the Navajo Nation weren’t able to respond to the questionnaire until mid-June, when workers began delivering packets to homes with a special code identifying their location. Workers then started conducting in-person questionnaires in August. That was supposed to wrap up in October. But the Trump administration recently moved the deadline to the end of September. The Navajo Nation joined a federal lawsuit this week to restore the Oct. 31 deadline. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

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