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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Triple Digit Temperatures In Utah Pose Health Risk For People Who Have More Trouble Beating The Heat

Photo of children playing on a splash pad outside
Lexi Peery
Temperatures are soaring in Southern Utah and people are finding ways to escape the heat.

The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat warnings and advisories for most of Utah — triple digits temperatures are expected through the weekend. 

But some people may not have access to stable shelter and air conditioning. As the hot weather sets in, shelters and volunteer groups are working harder to get people a place to stay or at least offer water to help battle the heat.

Normally when there’s a heat wave, space and resources are strained, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it worse.

Switchpoint Community Resource Center is a shelter that’s open 24/7 in St. George. But with more people seeking help because of unemployment and evictions, the shelter has a capacity problem, said Development Director Linda Stay.

“People are needing to stay in shelter longer right now because of COVID, so that’s causing a strain for sure because usually we can get people moving through quickly, and back on their feet,” Stay said. 

Amanda Christensen with Volunteers of America works with people experiencing homelessness in Utah. She helps connect people to resources, especially during extreme weather events. 

But she said some public places where people would usually go for relief are closed or limited now. 

“It’s more difficult to access some services because people have had to make changes to make it safe for people — it may be a limit to the number of individuals that can access the service or they may go online only, which impacts our populations specifically,” Christensen said.

However, up in Salt Lake County, officials have opened additional cooling centers this week during the heatwave. 

Lexi Peery is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George. Follow Lexi on Twitter @LexiFP

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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