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PM News Brief: Candy bomber dies, closing a gun control loophole & COVID improvements

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U.S. Air Force
Utah's Gail Halvorsen has died. He was a senior command pilot in the U.S. Airforce and dubbed Berlin's “Candy Bomber” during World War II. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022

State

Gail Halvorsen, Utah’s ‘Candy Bomber,’ dies at 101

Utah's Gail Halvorsen has died. He was a senior command pilot in the U.S. Air Force and dubbed Berlin's “Candy Bomber” during World War II. When supplies were short during the Berlin Airlift, he dropped candy from his plane for the city's children. The German Embassy in the U.S. says his efforts inspired “Operation Little Vittles." Halvorsen passed away Wednesday at age 101. The embassy thanked him for his kindness. — Pamela McCall

Gov. Spencer Cox signals his disapproval for school voucher bill  

A school voucher bill in the Utah Legislature is cruising for a veto. The legislation would give vouchers to parents for school tuition, private tutors or textbooks if they opt their kids out of public school. The amount they get would be based on income. Governor Spencer Cox said Thursday he supports vouchers but now is not the right time for them and plans to veto the bill if it passes. He said he would not support vouchers until teachers are making at least $60,000 as a starting salary. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson 

Utah moves one step closer to closing loophole in gun control law

Utah lawmakers want to close a loophole in a state gun control law. It has allowed Salt Lake County to require background checks for all gun sales and transfers conducted at facilities owned by the county, like expo centers. The new bill closes that loophole and allows people to sue local governments if they don’t follow the new legislation. The House and Senate have both passed versions of a bill to do that. It still needs one more vote in the Senate before heading to the governor’s desk. — Sonja Hutson 

Positive progress in Utah’s COVID numbers 

Utah continues to see signs of improvement with its COVID-19 situation. Health officials reported 1,032 new cases Thursday. That’s down compared to a week ago. Other metrics — like current hospitalizations, test positivity rate and week-long average of new cases — have also dropped. Still, the majority of the state remains in the high transmission level for COVID. Only Daggett, Piute and Rich counties are in the low level. — Ross Terrell 

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County partners with city to tear down and cleanup homeless camp 

Salt Lake County and city officials tore down and cleaned up a large homeless encampment in an empty lot near I-15 Thursday. Officials said the camp abatements are a measure to address health and safety concerns. But it displaces unsheltered people, causing them to find a new place to stay. Stacey Johnson, a resident of the encampment, said, “sanctioned camping is the only option that’s viable,” and estimated people would be back camping in the same location soon. But Salt Lake City officials say there are many factors to consider when it comes to sanctioned camping, like funding, a location for the camp and safety. Read the full story. — Emily Means

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