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AM News Brief: Public’s COVID Priorities, Parent’s On Virtual Instruction & Early Voting Numbers

Photo of a car at a ballot drop box.
Salt Lake County Clerk's Office

Wednesday morning, October 7, 2020

State

Higher Stakes For 2020 Vice Presidential Pick

The vice presidential debate starts Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Hosting a debate gives the city and the university national visibility, but this year’s vice presidential debate takes on even more significance because of both presidential candidates’ potential health problems and the ongoing pandemic. Both presidential candidates are in their 70s, which puts them at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. Brigham Young University political scientist David Magleby said there's a concern that either one could not complete a full term, which makes the vice presidential pick more important. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

COVID Priorities

Earlier this summer, nearly 25% of people in a survey by the Utah Foundation listed COVID-19 and public health as their top concern. However, just how important it was varied based on a number of demographics like age, gender and political ideology. According to the nonprofit research organization, more than 90% of liberals said the state reopened its economy too quickly, while about 40% of moderate conservatives felt the same. As for age, people 75 and older were the most concerned about the virus. The study also found about 42% of Utah voters are in favor of a mask mandate. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Parents Say Online Instruction Still Has Long Way To Go

Utah schools are continuing to face challenges teaching their students online. At a meeting Tuesday night, Canyons District Board members discussed a survey assessing how online learning was going, which found that while most parents felt the experience was positive overall, the level of instruction still had a long way to go. Students reported some of their biggest challenges were understanding content remotely and getting teacher feedback. The district, like most in the state, began the year with in-person classes, but also offered a fully online option. It has had among the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state and has had to temporarily move three of its high schools fully online. — Jon Reed

Region And Beyond

National Security Adviser On Election Interference

The White House national security adviser said the United States will not tolerate any election interference from foreign countries. Speaking to reporters at a national security summit in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Robert O'Brien said he told his Russian counterpart to "stay out" of the November election. O'Brien said the Russians told him they weren't planning to interfere with any Election Day activities. But he said there has already been evidence of interference by Russia, China and Iran, as well as other countries that he declined to name. — Associated Press

Early Voting Could Break Records

Over 4.5 million people have already cast their ballots for the upcoming election, according to the latest numbers from the U.S Elections Project. That’s more than a fifty-fold increase in early voting from this time in 2016, and experts are saying this could be a record year for a modern presidential election. Currently, Montana and Wyoming are the only states in our region reporting early votes. Colorado will start sending out over 4 million ballots by week’s end. Early voting begins in Nevada, a key battleground state, Oct. 17. — Beau Baker, Mountain West News Bureau