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AM Brief: Low COVID numbers, new Salt Lake County trail system & agriculture economic footprint

View from the top of a mountain canyon in fall.
Dselin
/
Wikimedia
Salt Lake County has purchased land in Butterfield Canyon in the southwest part of the county. It will become part of a new trail system connecting open space in Butterfield, Rose and Yellow Fork Canyons.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

State

Vaccinations in Utah are leveling out

This week marks a year since COVID-19 vaccines were made available for Utahns 16 and older. Since then, nearly 5 million doses have been administered statewide. About two-thirds of Utahns 5 years old and up are fully vaccinated. Rich Lakin, with the Utah Department of Health, said vaccination rates have leveled out recently. He said that number likely won’t change much unless there’s another surge, since an increase in case counts would lead to an increase in vaccinations. Lakin said it’s likely in the future the COVID vaccine will be an annual shot depending on variants in other countries. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

COVID numbers are sitting at a low level

COVID community levels have fallen to a low level across the state according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Utah Department of Health reported 109 cases Tuesday. Twenty of those were school-aged children, and 126 people are currently hospitalized. The department said unvaccinated people are 18.2 times more likely to die from COVID than boosted people. Salt Lake County reported 48 cases Monday. — Leah Treidler

Utah food and agriculture creates massive economic output

Utah’s food and agriculture industries had a direct economic output of nearly $28 billion in 2021, according to the sixth annual Feeding the Economy report, released Tuesday. It found the agriculture and food industry accounted for $1.5 billion of exports and employed more than 211,000 Utahns. That accounted for $7 billion in wages. The yearly study is put together by dozens of industry stakeholders like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Restaurant Association. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County plans new trail system

Salt Lake County is planning to create a trail network in canyons in the southwest corner of the county. The county council approved the purchase of 94 acres in Butterfield Canyon Tuesday. In total, the new trail system will span 2,500 acres. Martin Jensen, director of the county’s Parks and Recreation department, said they’ve been working to preserve the canyons by purchasing land and the new trail system will enhance public access to the space. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Mountain West Republicans push for tougher voting procedures

Republicans around the Mountain West are moving to tighten voting procedures. A local resolution in Nevada to change elections died this week, but the hearing showed the intense emotions around the issue. More than 100 residents showed up to comment on a measure to use hand-counted paper ballots and send law enforcement officers or National Guard troops to the polls. There’s no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, but lawmakers in Republican-led Arizona, Utah and Idaho are seeking changes at the state level. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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