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PM News Brief: Provo And Orem COVID-19 Restrictions, University Warnings & Neffs Canyon Fire

A photo of a man wearing a face mask.
Chelsea Naughton
For the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gary Herbert is tightening restrictions for two cities — Provo and Orem. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, September 22, 2020


Romney On Board For SCOTUS Nominee Vote

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, said Tuesday he supports voting on a Supreme Court nominee this year to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, making it very likely Senate Republicans will be able to move forward with a nominee. In 2016, the Republican-controlled Senate blocked a vote for President Barack Obama’s nominee eight months before the presidential election. Democrats now argue that it’s hypocritical to hold a vote even closer to the election. But Romney said there is precedent for blocking Supreme Court nominees of the opposite party during an election year and allowing votes for nominees of the party controlled by the Senate. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Fall Has Arrived. What’s In Store For Utah’s Fire Season

Tuesday marks the first day of fall, and Utah’s fire season could be soon coming to a close. Wildfires depend on two things — weather and dry fuels. Usually in the fall, temperatures in Utah start to drop and precipitation increases. But the National Weather Service predicts for the next three months, the state will see above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. This could prolong the fire season, said Jason Curry, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. He said fire officials are “waiting and watching” to see how this season turns out. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

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

Provo And Orem Moving Back To Orange

For the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gary Herbert is tightening restrictions for two cities — Provo and Orem. Both cities will move from the yellow, low risk guidelines back to the orange, moderate risk starting tomorrow night. Herbert said the rising cases and positivity rates in the two municipalities show intervention is needed. He said they are aware of the negative impact it will have on the marketplace and are sensitive to that, but he believes “a little pain now, will be a lot better than a lot of pain later.” Health officials announced another 650 COVID-19 cases Tuesday and for the past week, the state’s positivity rate is nearly 14%. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Elected Officials React To Move To Orange

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said it’s “disappointing” her city is being moved from the yellow, low risk phase of pandemic guidelines to the orange, moderate risk phase. But, in a statement, she said it should serve as a rallying cry for residents so restrictions there can be loosened again. Utah County has largely driven the rise in COVID-19 cases across the state and Provo and Orem have accounted for more than half the cases in the county. Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson also said in a statement he shared the governor’s concerns with the rise in cases, which can largely be traced back to university students. Also starting Wednesday night, Rich County will move to the green, new normal phase. — Ross Terrell

BYU And UVU Presidents Issue Warning To Students

The presidents of Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University released a joint letter Tuesday warning that if students don’t change their behavior to limit the spread of COVID-19, the schools may be forced to go virtual. Both universities are located in Utah County, which has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said young, college-aged people there are driving the trend. In the letter, both presidents asked students to limit their interactions to only those they live with and to stay home, except to attend classes, work or church. They say if rates don’t begin to drop in two weeks, the schools may have to close their campuses to the public or go completely online for the rest of the semester. — Caroline Ballard

Wildfire Started In Neffs Canyon

The Neffs Fire, which is burning in the mountains east of Salt Lake City, saw moderate growth this afternoon. Smoke from the blaze can be seen from the Salt Lake Valley. Utah Fire Info says about 80 firefighters, two helicopters and two other aircraft are fighting the fire. It sparked just after midnight Tuesday morning, but its cause is still unknown. The fire has burned at least 20 acres. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Dr. Fauci Praises Navajo Nation’s COVID-19 Response

Dr. Anthony Fauci, with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, met with Navajo Nation leadership and said they can serve as a model for the U.S. when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. Fauci praised the Tribe for their efforts to lower daily COVID-19 cases and said other governments should be paying attention. “The Navajo Nation has shown that you can turn things around by carefully and assiduously adhering to the guidelines of avoiding infection,” he said. At the start of the pandemic, the Nation struggled to contain the disease but has since issued a mask mandate and weekend curfews, which have helped them get things under control. — Darienne DeBrule

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