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PM News Brief: COVID-19 Case Surge, Public Safety At The U & Hideout Annexation

A photo of the University of Utah college campus.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
The University of Utah announced Monday it has created two new public safety committees. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, September 14, 2020

State

Four Straight Days Of More Than 550 New COVID-19 Cases

Utah’s Department of Health said it’s seeing a “clear, upward trend” in the number of new cases of COVID-19. Health officials reported 563 more cases of the disease Monday, making it the fourth day in a row of numbers above 550. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said the trend is being driven mostly by college-aged young adults in Utah County, and students need to act responsibly while off campus by wearing face coverings in public and avoiding large, indoor gatherings. Officials also announced three more people have died due to COVID-19. — Caroline Ballard

TRUCE Drops Medical Cannabis Lawsuit

The pro-medical cannabis non-profit TRUCE is dropping its lawsuit against the state over its medical marijuana law. The suit challenged how the Utah legislature passed the law in 2018 arguing that lawmakers changed the voter-approved ballot initiative so much that it became a fundamentally different law. In a release, TRUCE said that they have achieved their goal of preventing a state-run monopoly on medical marijuana, but there is more work to do to improve the system. Last year, the state Legislature repealed the parts of the law that created a centralized, state-run dispensary. — Caroline Ballard

State Legislature Looks To Streamline Public Comment Process

The Utah state Legislature is trying to make virtual public comment easier as it heads into two full days of committee hearings this week. Before, Utahns who wanted to weigh in had to request to speak before the committee meeting. Now, people can join the virtual WebEx meeting without any notice and virtually raise their hand to request to speak. Committee meetings start Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. Lawmakers will discuss law enforcement use of facial recognition software and emergency purchases made by the state, among other topics. — Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Planning Efforts Start To Pick Up For Utah State Prison Site

Planning efforts are ramping up on a site that state and local leaders called Utah’s most important development opportunity for the decades ahead. Right now, the prime real estate in Draper is home to the Utah State Prison, but one day officials hope to transform it into a 21st century hub for jobs, housing and transportation. On Monday, the Point of the Mountain State Land Authority announced it has hired a nationally-renowned planning expert to lead the efforts and launched a statewide survey soliciting feedback on goals for the site. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Could Paid Leave Help Slow Spread Of COVID-19 In Childcare Facilities?

Researchers investigated three outbreaks of COVID-19 at child care centers in Salt Lake City. At least two of the outbreaks started when staff came to work while sick relatives were experiencing symptoms at home. An epidemiologist with the county health department said improving paid leave policies for childcare workers could help prevent such outbreaks. Twelve children picked up the virus at daycare centers, then spread it to at least 12 other people outside of daycare, including parents and siblings. One parent had to be hospitalized. Another takeaway from the study is that if a COVID-19 case pops up in a child care setting, children who came in contact with the person should be tested, even if they don’t have symptoms. — Rae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West News Bureau

The U Announces Two New Public Safety Committees

The University of Utah announced Monday it has created two new public safety committees. This comes following public scrutiny over the U police department’s handling of Lauren McCluskey’s 2018 extortion case. She was later murdered on campus. The independent review committee, chaired by Amos Guiora — a law professor at the university — will be in charge of looking over complaints about things like excessive force or violation of rights. Guiora said he knows they are going to have to work to establish trust with the public. He said he welcomes the challenge and scrutiny that comes with the position and if anyone has concerns, they could email him. The university also announced it has formed a public safety advisory committee. It will be tasked with helping to improve the overall quality of life on the U’s campus. — Ross Terrell

Hideout Still Pushing Forward With Annexation Plans

The Town of Hideout, in Wasatch County, recently voted to move forward with another attempt to annex land across county lines. The town’s council passed a resolution last Thursday declaring its intent to annex 350 acres of land in Summit County — without Summit’s approval. In July, Summit County sued to stop Hideout’s previous attempt to annex nearly 700 acres of land. During a special session in August, the Utah Legislature repealed a law that allowed the annexation to happen but the repeal doesn’t go into effect until Oct. 20. The council is scheduled to have a public hearing for the possible annexation Oct. 12. — Emily Means

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