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PM News Brief: Counter Protester Arrested, Salt Lake City Water Infrastructure & COVID-19 Testing Sites

Sugarhouse Clinic COVID Testing TB.png
Tricia Bobeda
/
KUER
Retailer CVS announced plans Thursday to double its COVID-19 drive-through test sites at select locations across the U.S. including two states in the Mountain West. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, September 17, 2020

State

Sen. Mike Lee Blames Wildfires On Bad Management

During a Senate hearing Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, fixated on poor forest management while talking about wildfires raging across the West. He later tweeted what’s happening in California is because of bad management, not climate change. Mark Brunson, the director of the Great Basin Fire Science Exchange, said while Lee was mostly accurate in his comments about forest management, there’s no easy solution. The fire season is getting longer due to climate change and human development is also contributing to the wildfires. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Utah Sets New Record For Daily COVID-19 Cases

The Utah Department of Health reported 911 COVID-19 cases Thursday, setting a new record in the state for most new cases in a single day since the pandemic began. Gov. Gary Herbert said due to the ongoing COVID spike, the state will postpone any decision on loosening coronavirus restrictions in counties across the state. He also said he could tighten public health restrictions early next week, including instituting a statewide mask mandate. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Unemployment Numbers

More than 4,000 Utahns filed for new unemployment benefits last week according to numbers released Thursday by the state’s Department of Workforce Services. That includes traditional claims, the fund set up for gig workers and the self employed and people receiving benefits through the extended unemployment program. Utah paid out more than $39 million in state and federal money last week. — Ross Terrell

Utah Groups Call For Investigation Into ICE Hysterectomy Practices

Ten Utah groups are calling on the state’s Congressional delegation to sign on to a letter calling for an investigation into “abusive medical practices” by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. So far, 168 members of Congress have called for a look into ICE practices after a nurse at a detention center in Georgia described mass hysterectomies taking place. As of Thursday, no delegates from Utah have added their names to the letter. The groups calling on them to do so range from the state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and March for Our Lives, as well as organizations like Alliance for a Better Utah. In a statement, they call the whistleblower claims "a sickening and unconscionable violation of human rights." They're asking Utah lawmakers to join them as a "moral responsibility." — Roddy Nikpour

Northern Utah

Man Pulls Gun On Black Lives Matter Protesters In West Valley

Utah Black Lives Matter founder Lex Scott said on Facebook a man attacked her and other protesters Wednesday night in West Valley. The group gathered in front of the city’s police department to remember Damien Evans who was shot and killed by law enforcement last month. Video of the event shows a man in tactical gear pulling a gun out after a physical exchange with the Black Lives Matter group. People can then be heard yelling for him to put his weapon away. Scott posted on social media that protesters were also tased and pepper sprayed by him. West Valley police tweeted Thursday the 44-year-old Randall Schroerlucke has been arrested and cited on four counts of assault and one count of disorderly conduct. — Ross Terrell

EPA Loaning Nearly $345 Million To Salt Lake City For Water Infrastructure

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday it will loan $348.6 million to Salt Lake City to help build its new Water Reclamation Facility. It’s part of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program, which provides long-term loan assistance to regional and national projects. The loan makes up nearly half of the project’s overall budget of more than $700 million. The new site is meant to improve the city’s water treatment process, reduce nutrient discharges into the Great Salt Lake, and be able to withstand earthquakes and floods and construction is expected to finish in 2025. According to city officials, the loan will save the city around $100 million when compared to traditional loans. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

CVS To Increase Testing Sites In Mountain West Region

Retailer CVS announced plans Thursday to double its COVID-19 drive-through test sites at select locations across the U.S. including two states in the Mountain West. CVS said it expects 2,000 additional sites to be up and running by mid-October, with results available within two to three days. The move is in part intended to expand access in vulnerable communities. The drug store said it oversees the largest number of independently run COVID-19 test sites in the country. In this region, New Mexico and Nevada are part of the testing expansion and said 43 new test sites will be up and running in Nevada, a majority in and around Las Vegas. — Beau Baker, Mountain West News Bureau