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AM News Brief: State Looks To Sewage, BYU COVID-19 Cases Double & SLC Schools To Start Monday

Photo of a sign that says Brigham Young University on the university's campus.
istock / Wolterk
Officials say the number of self-reported coronavirus cases on Brigham Young University's campus has almost doubled this week. That story and more in Friday morning’s news brief.

Friday morning, September 11, 2020

Northern Utah

Encampment Cleanup Met With Protest

On Thursday, community members protested the Salt Lake County Health Department’s efforts to clean up homeless campsites. It was the second time in as many weeks that has happened. After the county health department notified unsheltered people on Rio Grande Street that they needed to remove their belongings, a dozen or so community members showed up to support the unsheltered and help them pack up. Their goal is to show up at the cleanups with great enough numbers to get the county health department and police to leave unsheltered people alone. The county’s environmental health manager said the main concern is public and environmental health. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Tens Of Thousands Still Without Power

Rocky Mountain Power is still working to restore power in many homes three days after severe windstorms shook northern Utah. As of 8:30 a.m. Friday, the utility reported nearly 44,000 outages across northern Utah — more than half are in the Salt Lake Valley. The power company warns people to stay away from any fallen power lines. — Roddy Nikpour

Salt Lake City Schools To Start Monday

Salt Lake City schools will delay their first day until Monday due to continued power outages from this week's windstorms in northern Utah. Winds upward of 100 miles per hour uprooted trees and caused significant damage in towns from Salt Lake City to Logan. Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency Wednesday, and government crews and residents are still working on clean-up efforts. The Salt Lake City school district was supposed to begin classes virtually on Tuesday — but then the windstorms hit the city. The district had already delayed classes two week because of the pandemic. — Associated Press

BYU Self-Reported Coronavirus Cases Double

Officials say the number of self-reported coronavirus cases on Brigham Young University's campus has almost doubled to 146. Last week, there were just 80 such cases. The school said in a statement that many of the self-reported cases have stemmed from gatherings both on and off campus. BYU started both in-person and online classes Aug. 31. The university said officials are considering what circumstances would force the school to transition exclusively online. A spokesperson said one consideration is that the university only has room to isolate about 200 students. — Associated Press


State Looks To Sewage Testing

Sewage testing could play an increased role in helping Utah slow the spread of COVID-19. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said Thursday the health department has started to rely on it, and they’ve found a relationship between a drop in cases and the incidence of the virus in wastewater. In fact, sewage testing at Utah State University prevented a potential COVID-19 outbreak in its residence halls. Health officials announced 346 new cases of the disease Thursday, while the positivity rate remains around 9%. The state has set a goal to keep the fatality rate below 1% and to maintain an unemployment rate of 4.5%. — Ross Terrell

Latter-day Saint Women On Voting Their Conscience

More than a dozen prominent Latter-day Saint women have come forward to say they will not be voting for President Donald Trump in November’s general election. The new group Women Speak Up And Speak Out released a video Wednesday that features women from across the political spectrum who say they want to elect a new president and that they choose "principles over loyalty to a party." Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham, former Republican state representative Becky Edwards and Mormon Women Project founder Neylan McBaine were some of those featured. — Caroline Ballard


Most Wildfires That Threaten Homes Caused By People

A new study out of University of Colorado Boulder reveals that 97% of fires in the wildland-urban interface between 1992 and 2015 were human-caused. Researchers used geography, housing reports and fire incident reports to analyze how fires big and small ignited. Researchers also found that nearly half of fire suppression costs were related to protecting homes. — Amanda Peacher, Mountain West News Bureau

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