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AM News Brief: Holladay Pythons, COVID-19 Hospitalizations & Dust-Up Between Orchards And Quarries

Sunrise over Utah Valley. / Fotoneurotic
Conflict is growing in Utah County between cherry farmers and quarry operators. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, October 13, 2020

Northern Utah

4th Congressional Candidates Square Off

Rep. Ben McAdams, D-UT, and his challenger, former NFL Player Burgess Owens, debated their ideas for healthcare reform Monday evening. Responding to a question from a diabetic Salt Lake Community College student, Owens said that both Democrats and Republicans want to keep protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. McAdams went after Owens’ history on pre-existing conditions protections. He pointed out that up until a few weeks ago, the Republican’s website said he supported repealing Obamacare. Owens refuted that his website said he supported removing the protections, but a snapshot from the Internet Archive shows McAdams is right. His website now says repealing Obamacare is not necessary. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Dust Up Between Orchards And Quarries

Conflict is growing in Utah County between cherry farmers and quarry operators. Orchard owners say the quarries are creating dust that damages their trees by coating the leaves, creating an ideal environment for bugs to proliferate. The quarries that mine sand and gravel products are feeding a boom in real estate development and road building. The situation is pitting important Utah industries against one another. Farmers complain the state is favoring the construction industry, but quarry operators say they are heavily regulated and their impacts are minimal. — Associated Press

Holladay Pythons

It was guns, drugs, money — and snakes in Holladay. Unified Police said they seized 20 Burmese pythons that were being kept without an exotic or dangerous animal permit. A probable cause affidavit said a 64-year-old man sold a baby Burmese python to an undercover officer. Police then got a search warrant for his home, where they found marijuana, a gun, more than $2,000, and the other pythons. Ten of them were reportedly more than ten feet long. The man's permit expired in 2017. He has not yet been charged. — Associated Press

Region And Beyond

Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update

Thirty new cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Navajo Department of Health Monday. Officials also recorded six more deaths on the Navajo Nation, which spans Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The number of cases on the reservation is nearing 11,000, with a total 571 fatalities due to the disease. Tribal leaders have extended a mask mandate, daily curfews and weekend lockdowns. — Associated Press

COVID-19 Hospitalizations On The Rise

COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising across the Mountain West, with some states — including Utah — seeing record numbers. Josh Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said this trend is a good way to measure the severity of an outbreak. And in a region as rural as the Mountain West, he said a lot of people in the hospital with the virus can very easily overwhelm the healthcare system. Sharfstein said this type of rapid increase usually indicates that it’s just the beginning part of a wave of infections. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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