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PM Brief: Utah’s record-low unemployment, looser hospital COVID restrictions & Wyoming’s roadkill app

 A collage of business signs seen around downtown Salt Lake City all point to one thing: many businesses are hiring as the state's unemployment rate remains low, March 15, 2022.
Brian Albers
A collage of business signs seen around downtown Salt Lake City all point to one thing: many businesses are hiring as the state's unemployment rate remains low, March 15, 2022.

Friday, Mar. 18, 2022


Utah’s February jobs report

Utah’s unemployment rate has fallen to a record low, according to data released Friday by the Department of Workforce Services. February’s unemployment rate is estimated at 2.1% while the national unemployment rate is nearly 4%. Utah is one of eight states that have more jobs now than it did before the pandemic began. The state has added about 66,000 jobs since February 2020. Chief Economist Mark Knold said it remains to be seen how the war in Ukraine and ongoing inflation will affect the state’s economy. — Jon Reed

Intermountain Healthcare loosens COVID restrictions

Utah has seen fewer than 200 daily COVID-19 cases for the past week, and as of Friday, there are 156 people hospitalized with the virus. That drop in cases and hospitalizations has Intermountain Healthcare relaxing some of its visitor guidelines. For non-COVID patients, some hospitals are increasing the number of visitors permitted and may allow overnight visitors now too. That’s all at the discretion of the local care teams though. Adult COVID patients can only have one designated visitor at a time — and they’ll have to wear personal protective equipment. Masks are still required in common areas for everyone. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

BYU self-reports on campus sexual assault climate

Brigham Young University has released its second campus climate survey on sexual assault. The first one was released in 2017 — a year after an investigation by The Salt Lake Tribune found poor treatment of sexual-assault survivors at the university. The new survey found students are better informed about sexual assault and campus resources compared to five years ago. Additionally, more than three-fourths of students thought if they were sexually assaulted, their case would be taken seriously. BYU also included students they refer to as LGBQ+. Of those students surveyed, 25% do not feel safe on campus — compared to 4% of their straight peers. — Lexi Peery

Preparing for Utah’s ‘big one’

Friday marks the second anniversary of the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that hit Magna and shook northern Utah. Since then, the state has created a website on earthquake resources and released a plan for unreinforced masonry buildings on the Wasatch Front. These kinds of brick buildings are the biggest earthquake hazard, according to a 2021 FEMA report. Wade Mathews, with the Utah Division of Emergency Management, said they are working with money the state legislature allocated to help repair and reinforce school structures. But the FEMA report notes there are still 140,000 buildings on the Wasatch Front that are prone to earthquake damage. For some Utah residents, the anniversary is a reminder to better prepare for these natural disasters. — Ivana Martinez

American Fork names police chief

American Fork announced Thursday Lt. Cameron Paul will be the new police chief. He’s worked in law enforcement for 14 years in the city and has been the interim chief since last fall. Former Chief Darren Falslev retired after serving in the role for 30 years. Paul said in a statement that he will “continue to establish highly positive and unprecedented community relationships.” The city administrator said Paul was selected from “many qualified applicants,” which included some from out of state. The department said Paul has experience training officers in community policing, using less-lethal tactics and de-escalation. — Sudha Reynolds


Want Wyoming roadkill? There’s an app for that

It’s legal to pick up roadkill for food in most of the Mountain West, but you often have to get a permit. Now Wyoming is making that especially easy to do with an app called Wyoming 511. It’s the first roadkill permitting system in the region that’s accessed via an app, and it could inspire others to do the same. It is legal to take roadkill in Utah, but people have to contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to get a donation slip. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

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