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AM News Brief: Child Homelessness, SLCPD Lawsuit & Lawmakers Want To End COVID State Of Emergency

Police vehicle with emergency lights flashing at night.
Brian Albers / KUER
The family of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal filed a lawsuit Friday against Salt Lake City and its police department. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Monday morning, September 28, 2020

State

Four Day Run Of 1,000+ COVID-19 Cases

Utah continues to experience a spike in COVID-19 cases as officials announced more than 2,000 new cases this weekend. There have now been four days in a row of more than 1,000 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases in the state is 974. Officials also announced Sunday that five more people died from the disease bringing the state’s total to 453. There are currently 180 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, and over 40% of them are in ICU beds across the state. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Legislators Seek End To State Of Emergency

Twenty-four Utah legislators have signed a joint agreement that calls for an end to the current COVID-19 state of emergency declaration. Gov. Gary Herbert has renewed it monthly since early March, even though lawmakers declined to extend it during a special legislative session in August. The joint resolution claims that if enough legislators sign on, Herbert has no authority to renew the declaration. The governor has said the state of emergency has been used to suspend some statutes. The latest declaration is set to expire Oct. 20. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Child Homelessness In Utah

More than 2,000 Utah children 6 years old or younger received homeless services last year, according to a new report from Crossroads Urban Center in Salt Lake City. Bill Tibbitts, associate director for the center, said the coronavirus pandemic has made people hesitant to go to shelters. Still, 4,212 people in families with children have received homeless services this year. Tibbitts said that makes it difficult for kids who don’t have homes, access to the internet or computers to keep up with their education. The report recommends the state creates 200 units of supportive housing, where families who have a history of homelessness also have access to social services. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

Palacios-Carbajal Lawsuit

The family of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal filed a lawsuit Friday against Salt Lake City and its police department. Police shot and killed Palacios-Carbajal in May. The suit alleges that officers used excessive force when they fired 34 shots at him as he was running away and that they continued to shoot him even when he was no longer a threat. In July, the Salt Lake County District Attorney ruled that the officers were justified in their actions. Attorneys for the family said in a statement that instances of police force since Palacios-Cabajal’s death show the mayor and police department are “not interested in real reform.” The family is seeking punitive damages and legal costs. — Emily Means

Utah Congressional Candidate’s HQ Destroyed

A pickup truck ran into a Utah congressional candidate Burgess Owens’ campaign headquarters, damaging the building and destroying the majority of the campaign materials stored inside. The Salt Lake Tribune reported the vehicle struck the headquarters in Midvale around midnight Friday. Owens' Twitter account attributed the incident to a runaway truck and said there were no injuries. Owens Communications Director Jesse Ranney said staff members left the building hours earlier, and that political sabotage was not considered a factor in the accident. Owens is contesting the 4th Congressional seat held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams. — Associated Press

Salt Lake Expands Student Meal Program

The Salt Lake City School District has added six locations to it’s lunch program bringing the total to 22 schools throughout the district. Grab and go meals are available Monday through Friday for anyone 18 years old or younger, and school enrollment is not required. Meals are also now being offered an hour earlier starting at 10:30 a.m. and going until 12:30 p.m. For more information about specific locations visit SLCschools.org. — Lexi Peery

Region/Nation/World

Colorado Imposes New Fracking Rules

Colorado regulators are now requiring oil and gas operators to monitor fracking emissions earlier and more often and provide that data to local governments. Both industry officials and regulators supported the move. But concerns persist: like the fact that it allows oil and gas operators to choose how to monitor their own emissions. Regardless, environmental groups see Colorado as a leader in emission monitoring in the region and hope other states follow suit. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

“Retrospective” Contact Tracing

Japan has managed to keep its COVID-19 cases relatively low, without lockdowns. Officials there have said one big reason for their success is “retrospective contact tracing.” Usual contact tracing starts with a known case and looks forward — asking, who else might the infected person have passed the virus to? But Japan’s focus is backward — asking, where did they pick up the virus in the first place, and could that answer point to a superspreading event or person? It’s unclear to what extent contact tracers in the U.S. are following this more comprehensive approach. But efforts in general have been hampered by lack of funding and public mistrust of health officials. — Rae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West News Bureau

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