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AM News Brief: Utah Job Quality, Trump Trashes Romney & Herbert On COVID

Photo of a man speaking into a microphone
Pool photo
Gov. Gary Herbert said Utah will aim to be prepared to distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available, a week after the federal government told states to be ready for distribution by Nov. 1. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, September 4, 2020

State

Herbert Says Utah Will Be Ready To Distribute Vaccine
Gov. Gary Herbert said Utah will aim to be prepared to distribute a coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available, a week after the federal government told states to be ready for distribution by Nov. 1. At his weekly briefing Thursday, Herbert did not clarify whether Utah will expedite the licensing and permitting processes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had requested. The ramped up distribution timeline has raised concerns among public health experts that the vaccine's approval may be driven by political considerations ahead of a presidential election, rather than science. — Diane Maggipinto

Winter Is Coming, Stay COVID Vigilant
As the weather starts to get cooler, Herbert is also urging Utahns to be even more vigilant about following social distancing guidelines. He says Labor Day usually represents the end of summer for people, and the transition to fall presents new challenges in the state’s COVID-19 response as school gets in full swing and activities move indoors because of the weather. Utah’s average number of daily cases over the past week is 394 — up from an average of 366 this time last week. Thursday, health officials reported another 504 COVID-19 cases, the highest in a day since mid-August. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Ranks Second In Regional Job Quality
The advocacy group Voices for Utah Children has released its 2020 job quality report. It compares wages and work hours in Utah to neighboring states based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data from between 2010 and 2018. Jobs are judged not just on wages, but also on metrics like how dangerous the work environment is. According to the report, Utah ranked second in the region for job quality behind Colorado, and it fared the best when it came to work hours. The study also found that Utah was the only state nationally that saw wage growth across all income brackets. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Whitehorse High Sees 20% Graduation Increase
Whitehorse High School has officially graduated from a Utah program for underperforming schools, which is great news for the small high school located on the Navajo Nation in Montezuma Creek. Around 80% of students at Whitehorse don’t have internet at home and almost all live below the poverty line, according to the school’s principal, Kim Schaefer. Still, she said the school’s graduation rate has gone up by 20% since it entered the program in 2016, and students’ average ACT scores have gone up by three points, or 12%. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Region/Nation

Trump On Romney “Couldn’t Be Elected Dog Catcher”

In Pennsylvania Thursday, President Donald Trump smeared Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney, saying the senator “couldn't be elected dog catcher right now in Utah.” The Hill reports that Trump referred to Romney as the worst senator before a maskless crowd. Romney cast the lone Republican vote to convict Trump on one charge during the President’s impeachment trial. And Romney has been a consistent critic of Trump. The president on Thursday also referred to Romney’s march with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C., over the summer, saying “he had a lot of mask on, I’ll tell you that.” Romney won his seat with 62% of the vote in 2018. His term ends 2025. — Diane Maggipinto

Could 5G Cell Towers Cause Coronavirus? (Spoiler: No.)

Conspiracy theories seem to be popping up all over the place these days, especially when it comes to COVID-19. And according to a new study, that’s especially true in our region. The analysis looked at Google search data and found that conspiracy theories like the one that says cell towers are causing the virus are especially prevalent. 5G is the latest generation technology for cellular networks, and the theory ties its arrival to the outbreak of the pandemic. A data journalist with the study said it’s possible that the lack of 5G coverage in much of our region could contribute to the conspiracy theory’s popularity, as a kind of fear of the unknown. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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