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AM News Brief: COVID In Utah County, Ski Resort Pandemic Plans & Firewood Collection For Navajo Elders

The Urban Indian Center in Salt Lake City is collecting firewood from trees that fell down during the wind storm last week. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.
Elaine Clark
The Urban Indian Center in Salt Lake City is collecting firewood from trees that fell down during the wind storm last week. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, September 14, 2020


Utah County Sees Biggest Increase In COVID-19 Cases

Sunday marked the third day in a row that more than 500 daily cases of COVID-19 were reported in Utah. There were 572 on Saturday and 628 on Sunday. Utah County’s seven-day average rate of increase is nearly double the rest of the state. There were 304 new cases reported there on Sunday — the most in a single day in Utah County since the start of the pandemic. Utah County’s per capita rate is now larger than Salt Lake County’s. Two deaths were also reported for Utah on Saturday, a man between the ages of 65-84 in Davis County and another man in Salt Lake County between the ages of 45-64. That brings the total number of people in the state who have died from the virus to 433. — Elaine Clark

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Firewood Collection For Navajo Elders

The Urban Indian Center in Salt Lake City is collecting firewood from trees that fell down during the wind storm last week. The wood will be donated to Navajo elders in southeast Utah. That’s according to the Center’s director, Maurice Smith. He said the Utah Navajo Health System is picking it up later this week and will distribute it to families that rely on firewood for cooking, bathing, heating water and heating houses. The Center is accepting all types of wood through this Thursday, 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Firewood needs to be less than 3 feet around and 4 feet long. Brush will not be accepted. — Kate Groetzinger and Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Wildfires Blaze Across Northern Utah

Utah fire crews doused a fast-moving wildfire that threatened neighborhoods southwest of Santaquin. The Goshen Fire broke out Sunday, and authorities said it looks like it was human-caused. Attacks from air and ground stopped the flames at just under 150 acres, and the fire is now 90% contained.

The Battle Creek Fire broke out Friday night in the canyon of the same name, east of Pleasant Grove in Utah County. It is now 20% contained. Crews had to beat back winds in red flag conditions, and some roads and trails in the vicinity are off-limits. The fire's cause is being investigated but officials said it appears to be human-caused.

The biggest wildfire, at nearly 47,000 acres, continues to burn in the High Uintas Wilderness area. The Great Basin Management Team is overseeing the East Fork Fire that started from lightning. The blaze is 18% contained and burning on parts of the Ashley National Forest and on Uintah and Ouray Tribal Lands. The Duchesne County Sheriff’s Office has closed county roads in and near the fire area, which is northeast of Moon Lake in the High Uintas, and 13 miles north of Hanna. — Diane Maggipinto

Follow KUER’s coverage of Utah’s 2020 Fire Season.

Power Still Out For 4,700 Utahns

Rocky Mountain Power said Monday morning there are still 1,200 outages in Utah affecting 4,771 customers. Officials said crews are working around the clock to repair the damage from last week's wind storm, and they are getting help from sister utilities from Nevada and Iowa. The company said most customers' power will be restored at some point Monday, though some repairs will continue into Tuesday and Wednesday. More than 92% of the power outages that began a week ago have been restored to full service. The east side of the Salt Lake Valley, South Ogden and Uintah are the most heavily-affected. Crews said the biggest challenge is that more than 4 in 5 of the remaining outages affect pockets of 10 homes or fewer. — Diane Maggipinto

Pandemic Plans Mean Teacher Shortages For Many Schools

Many teachers are choosing not to return to the classroom because of the coronavirus threat, and schools around the U.S. are scrambling to find replacements. In Salt Lake County, more than 80 teachers have resigned or retired early because of concerns about COVID-19 in schools. More than half of those were in the Granite School District, and all of them were fined $1,000 for failing to give 30 days’ notice. Mike McDonough, president of the Granite Education Association teachers union, said the departures stem from school reopening plans. In Granite, most students are learning in the classroom four days a week, and there are few opportunities for teachers to instruct solely online. He said teachers didn't feel safe returning to the schoolroom and were scared to assume that level of risk, feeling they had no other choice but to get out. — Associated Press

Hill AFB Night Exercises

Starting Monday, Hill Air Force base will begin night combat exercise training. The active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings will conduct about 80 attack flights each night with the latest finishing up around 1 a.m. Officials said airmen from both wings are currently deployed in the Middle East. The training is scheduled to last until Thursday, Sept. 17. — Darienne DeBrule


Wildfires Will Change The Forests Of The Future

A new studyfrom the University of Colorado, Boulder suggests that when forests burn across the southern Rocky Mountains, many will not grow back the same. Lead author Kyle Rodman told KVNF in Colorado that species like spruce and pine could be replaced with grasses and shrubs, because of climate change. He said those species tend to grow in wet, cool years, and that there are fewer of those years than there were 50 years ago. Rodman predicted that some forests that burn today will look very different in the future, but not all forests will be affected. Rodman said those with deciduous trees like Gambol Oak or Aspen will grow back almost immediately. — Jodie Peterson, KVNF and Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Vaccine Trials On Navajo Nation

Navajo Nation officials said they will participate in COVID-19 vaccine trials as the reservation sees a steady decline in positive cases. The Navajo Nation once had the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country, but has since seen a substantial decrease in community spread. The vaccine trials will be conducted at health care centers across the Navajo Nation and participation is voluntary. CNN reported that the American company Pfizer and BioNTech in Germany want to expand Phase 3 clinical trials for the vaccine that would include a more diverse volunteer base and include people as young as 16. — Associated Press/Diane Maggipinto

Distance On The Ski Slopes

Snow across the region last week may have you thinking of ski season, but things will look different on the slopes this year. Several resorts across the Mountain West have recently announced measures they’re putting in place to adapt to the pandemic. Those include required face coverings, limiting how people ride the gondola or chairlift, as well as a reservation system for riders. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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