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AM Brief: U of U ends mask mandate, Jazz play Ukrainian anthem & rents and wages gap widens

A KN95 face mask.
Brian Albers
A KN95 face mask.

Thursday, Mar. 10, 2022

Southern Utah

Conservationists tag Iron County water project as unnecessary

In a report released Wednesday, conservation groups claimed Iron County is using outdated population projections to inflate water needs and that the Pine Valley Water Supply project is unnecessary. They also argued the county’s water district isn’t doing enough for conservation. Zach Frankel, the executive director of Utah Rivers Council, said that’s a problem because it’ll cost residents $260 million. Paul Monroe, the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District’s general manager, said the report is inflammatory and misleading. He said state population projections were adjusted because they haven’t been as realistic as their actual growth. As for conservation, he said it is something they can do more of. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Northern Utah

Masks no longer required at the U

Just before students and faculty return from spring break, the University of Utah will end its mask mandate, according to a release from university leaders. COVID cases have dropped significantly in the past two months, they said, and the majority of staff, students and faculty have been vaccinated and received a booster shot. They also said they’re following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance by repealing the mandate. Masks are still required in health care facilities. The Salt Lake County Health Department reported 83 new cases Tuesday. — Leah Treidler

Ukrainian anthem plays before Jazz game

Before Wednesday night’s Jazz victory over the Trail Blazers, Ogden violinist Gabriel Gordon took to the court to play a special rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem. Jazz officials said this was the first time the anthem of a European country had been played at an NBA game. It came the day after the team announced a plan to pay for more than 32,000 nights of housing for Ukrainian refugees, in partnership with Airbnb. In another act of support by Utahns, a #StandWithUkraine march and rally will take place this Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. at 55 S Main St. — Leah Treidler


Native American worry on the eve of 2020 census report card release (update below)

The U.S. Census Bureau will release reports Thursday that show how good of a job the agency believes it did in counting every U.S. resident during the 2020 census. Native American tribes and advocates launched well-financed campaigns to ensure a more accurate count. Despite that, they believe those living on about 300 reservations across the country will be undercounted again, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 5% of that population was missed during the 2010 census, the highest of any race group. The Census Bureau will release two reports assessing the national count based on race, Hispanic origin, sex and age.

Gap between Mountain West rents and wages widens

Rents are rising quickly across the Mountain West, but wages aren’t growing nearly as fast, according to a new study. Research by Online Mortgage Advisor tracked changes in rent and salaries and measured how much of a renter’s salary is needed for a one-bedroom apartment. That gap in affordability grew wider in many U.S. cities from 2017 to 2021 — but nowhere as much as Boise, Idaho, and Reno, Nevada, which are numbers one and two on the list. The top 10 include other Mountain West cities too. Las Vegas comes in at number five, and Colorado Springs is number eight. — Dave Rosenthal, Mountain West News Bureau

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