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AM News Brief: Inaccurate rapid tests, Democratic challenger for Utah’s 4th Congressional District & building more western EV charging stations

Young girl getting COVID swab
Courtesy FDA.gov

Monday, Feb. 7, 2022

State

Utah will pause use of inaccurate rapid tests

Starting Monday, state testing sites will pause the use of GenBody rapid antigen tests. That’s after a Utah Department of Health analysis showed GenBody rapid tests are less accurate than expected. Officials studied test results from nearly 18,000 residents who took the PCR and rapid test on the same day. Of those whose PCR test was positive, more than half tested negative on the GenBody rapid test. Positive results from the rapid antigen tests are still extremely reliable. UDOH says anyone who tested negative on a rapid antigen test at a state testing site between Feb. 2 and Feb. 6 should consider returning for a PCR test. — Leah Treidler

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Pandemic leads to rising mental health issues

In the two years since the pandemic started, doctors in Utah have seen more people seek mental health services. Dr. Kristin Francis, with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, said she has seen more people experience anxiety and depression for the first time. It’s a normal response in these unprecedented times, and Francis is encouraging people to acknowledge those feelings. “It is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength to ask for support when you need it,” she said. “So people are like, 'How do I know when it's time?' You know, it's time when it's really impacting your life.” Dr. Teague Cowley, also with the institute, said building resilience can look different from person to person but it’s not about minimizing experiences. Instead, it’s how you move through them. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Tax cut bill to include tax credits for low-income people

A massive tax cut bill, SB 59, is moving forward in the Utah Legislature. The legislation now includes tax credits for low-income people and expanded credits for people who are getting social security benefits. Low-income people would get a nonrefundable tax credit equal to 15% of whatever they get in the federal earned income tax credit. The bill would also allow more people to qualify for bigger tax credits for the income they bring in through social security benefits. It cuts the income and corporate tax rates by 0.5% across the board. The bill now heads to the full House, but the Senate would need to vote on it again in order to pass. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Prominent Utah figure continues to allege Church lied about donations

James Huntsman, a member of one of Utah's most prominent families, is insisting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints misused donations collected for charity. He said Church leaders lied and instead used the money for commercial purposes. A federal judge in California dismissed his complaint in September because they said no reasonable juror would believe Church leaders made false statements about how tithing funds would be used. But Huntsman filed an appeal Friday asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider his accusations. Huntsman is seeking $5 million in damages from the Church. — Associated Press

Northern Utah

Democrat launches campaign to unseat Republican Rep. Burgess Owens

Democrat Darlene McDonald has announced she’s preparing to challenge Republican Rep. Burgess Owens for his 4th Congressional District seat this November. She made the announcement on Twitter Saturday. McDonald has worked in the technology industry for nearly 40 years, and she recently founded the 1Utah Project — a nonprofit that encourages civic engagement in the BIPOC community. In her statement, McDonald said she’s “tired of seeing endless distractions while our country faces serious and very real problems.” She said that includes the supply chain crisis, crumbling infrastructure and the national debt. — Leah Treidler

Southern Utah

Trail closures in Zion

According to the National Park Service, some trails in Zion will temporarily close for maintenance. The Watchman Trail will close for about a week starting Monday, and Scout Lookout will close Wednesday. Angels Landing will also be closed to all climbing activities on Feb. 16. NPS officials said the work will improve hiking trails and protect the park's landscapes, animals and plants. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Western states push to build more electric vehicle charging stations

Electric vehicle sales are booming across the country — and that has some state lawmakers and businesses scrambling to increase the number of charging stations in the Mountain West. New Mexico Democrats are pushing through a bill that would appropriate $10 million to expand the number of charging stations there. In Utah, the utility company Rocky Mountain Power announced in January it was doubling the number of ultra-fast charging stations in the state. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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