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AM News Brief: Ski Season Sales, Dying Pinyons & Antigen Testing

Photo of Park City Mountain Resort and town.
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Vail Resorts said pass sales are up for the upcoming ski season, but that doesn't necessarily mean slopes will be crowded. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, September 29, 2020

Navajo Nation

Census Workers Trying To Reach Residents Of Navajo Nation

The 2020 census count was supposed to end on Wednesday, but a federal judge has told the Census Bureau to continue counting for the time being. Still, the count could end any day, depending on how the court case plays out. And, the census is far from complete on the Navajo Nation. Only around 20% of households on the Navajo Nation have self-responded to the questionnaire so far, and workers have yet to make it to over 25% of the households that did not self-respond. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Tribal Leaders Look To Stem COVID-19 Cases

Navajo Nation health officials Monday reported 22 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no additional deaths. The latest figures bring the total number of cases to 10,312 with the known death toll at 555. Navajo leaders reimplemented a stricter weekend lockdown as the Nation looks into new clusters of the virus stemming from family gatherings and off-reservation travel. Residents are required to stay home from Friday evening until early Monday morning. — Diane Maggipinto

Firewood Drive Largest Of Its Kind

The Utah Division of Emergency Management said the Firewood For Tribes project, which collected downed trees from the Wasatch Front windstorm earlier this month, is possibly the largest of its kind in the country. The agency says 1,000 tons of firewood filled 18 tractor trailer loads. The trucks convoyed to the Navajo Nation, where wood-burning is widespread and often the sole source for home heating. The effort began with a call for donations of wood to the Urban Indian Center in Salt Lake, which collected the logs for the project that ended last Saturday. — Diane Maggipinto

Region

Ski Season Sales Are Up, But What Will It Mean For The Slopes?

Vail Resorts said pass sales are up for the upcoming ski season, but that doesn't necessarily mean slopes will be crowded. The company, which owns Park City Mountain Resort in Utah, said people using credit from last year's shortened season are behind the jump in pass sales. CEO Robert Katz said though he doesn’t expect sales to new pass holders to be larger than last year. And when it comes to actually hitting the slopes, resorts are putting in strict limits. Reservations will be required at all of Vail's North American resorts. The company is offering refunds to passholders who can't reserve their preferred days. Read the full story from Colorado Public Radio Sarah Mulholland, Colorado Public Radio

Idaho’s City of Rocks Pinyons Dying

The City of Rocks National Reserve in Southern Idaho is experiencing what appears to be a die-off of pinyon pines. Superintendent Wallace Keck said the few pinyons in the reserve are dying more quickly than in the past, turning orange and brown in the last stages. He said the pinyon pines, more common in Utah and Nevada, are relied on by pinyon jays and pinyon mice — as well as the near-by Shoshone-Bannock tribes who collect the pine nuts. A Forest Service plant pathologist said native black fungus is attacking the trees at the roots and then native Ips beetles are burrowing under the bark of weakened trees. Keck thinks changing climate has made the region wetter, making the trees susceptible to both the fungus and the beetles. — Associated Press

Antigen Tests Lagging In Some Mountain States

Antigen testing is expected to become a more common way to test for COVID-19. It looks for the virus’ surface coating, rather than pieces of its genetic material. It’s faster than other tests, but Mountain West states differ in how they handle the results, with some states only collecting some results. Reporting from Kaiser Health News found that three Mountain West states were among 20 states that were lagging when it came to collecting the results of antigen tests: Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. There’s been some improvement since then with at least Colorado now requiring all antigen test results to be reported. Public health experts say all results — positive and negative — need to be collected to understand the scale of each state’s outbreak. The same report found that Utah antigen testing is included in the state’s positive, negative and total testing numbers and that positive cases are included in Utah’s COVID-19 case counts. — Rae Ellen Bichell, Mountain West News Bureau

Northern Utah

Car Rolls Into Deer Creek Reservoir

Authorities in Utah said a car accidentally rolled into a reservoir Sunday while the driver and owner of the vehicle got out of the car to take photos. KUTV-TV reported that the Wasatch County Search and Rescue was asked at 11:05 p.m. to help recover the car from Deer Creek Reservoir. The car was safely removed, and no injuries were reported. The owner of the car, who remained unidentified, was on a boat ramp at the state park to take pictures of his car when it began rolling toward the water. No one was inside the vehicle when it submerged. — Associated Press

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