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PM News Brief: Salt Lake City Trees, Lake Powell Pipeline & Wildfire Smoke Dangers

A photo of a fallen tree with a sunset in the background.
Renee Bright
Salt Lake City is raising money to help replace more than 1,500 trees that were toppled in this month’s historic wind storm. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, September 24 2020


Utah Sets New COVID-19 Record Yet Again

Utah health officials reported 1,198 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, a new daily record for the state. It marks the third time in the past week the state has set a new record for daily cases. The spike is concentrated in Utah County, and earlier this week Gov. Gary Herbert moved Provo and Orem back into the orange, moderate level of pandemic restrictions, from the yellow, low risk level. During his Thursday press conference, Herbert warned that if Provo and Orem residents continue to ignore public health guidelines, more restrictions could be on the way, including moving all of Utah County back into the orange phase. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Continued Unemployment Claims Fall Below 50,000

Continued unemployment claims dipped below 50,000 last week for the first time since the first week of April. That’s according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Workforce Services. Still, nearly 4,500 Utahns filed for new benefits including traditional claims and the fund set up for gig workers and the self-employed. Kevin Burt, with the Department, said it’s “promising” to see the number of people receiving unemployment continue to drop. But he said the number of new weekly claims has plateaued meaning there are still “disruptions to employment.” — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Oil And Gas Well Permits Pulled For Land Near Dinosaur National Monument

The Bureau of Land Management has pulled permits for two oil and gas wells in greater sage grouse habitat next to Dinosaur National Monument. The Vernal Field Office approved the wells last year, prompting the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance to file an appeal. Landon Newell, an attorney for the alliance, said the field office failed to consider the impacts of the wells to the monument, the sage grouse and the environment. If the oil and gas company reapplies, the Bureau will not be responsible for looking at cumulative impacts because of new National Environmental Policy Act regulations President Donald Trump put in place. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

New Campaign Launched To Replant 1,500 Trees In Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is raising money to help replace more than 1,500 trees that were toppled in this month’s historic wind storm. The ReTree SLC campaign is a partnership between the city government and the nonprofit TreeUtah. ReTree SLC will replant trees throughout the city, including places like Liberty Park and the Salt Lake City cemetery, which saw the greatest losses. The funds will be used to buy trees and will also set up a system for volunteers to help with planting. — Caroline Ballard

Utah State Prison In Lockdown Due To COVID-19

The Utah State Prison in Draper and the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison have been placed under a 24-hour lockdown after authorities believe the general inmate populations were exposed to COVID-19. The state Department of Corrections told the Deseret News that the facilities went into lockdown Wednesday afternoon. The department said in a statement that it is coordinating with local health officials and the prison had previously reported 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 14 of which have since recovered. As of Monday, there have been no reported inmate deaths from COVID-19 in the state. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

Groups Request Extension For Lake Powell Pipeline

The agencies proposing the Lake Powell Pipeline have asked for an extension on the environmental review to adequately address concerns surrounding the project. The request comes just weeks after the public comment period closed on the draft environmental impact statement. During that time, over 14,000 comments were submitted, according to Rick Baxter, a project manager at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which is the agency leading the review. The project has recently received pushback from surrounding states that also rely on the Colorado River water. If the extension is not approved, a final decision on the project is expected in early 2021. — Lexi Peery, St. George


Wildfires Pose Large Threat For Asthma Patients

A new study suggests wildfire smoke is more dangerous than other air pollutants for asthma patients. Researchers looked at six years of data in and around Reno and found that high-pollution days caused by wildfire smoke sent a lot more people to the hospital for asthma. Asthma rates among adults in the Mountain West are above the national average of 7.7%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. — Beau Baker, Mountain West News Bureau

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