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PM News Brief: Firearms Trafficking, Election Day Childcare & Regional Job Recovery

A photo of children at a daycare, with the focus on toy cars.
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Two YMCA centers, one in Taylorsville and one in Ogden, will be offering free childcare on Election Day. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, October 14, 2020

State

1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic Versus 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic

Almost as soon as the coronavirus pandemic began in the U.S. in March, historians began looking back to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic to gain some perspective on what’s unfolding today. Now, a new digital exhibit at the University of Utah explores how Utah responded, diving into the pandemics 100 years apart. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Sen. Mike Lee On Day Three Of SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings

During the third day of U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, used his time to talk about religious freedom and how nominee Amy Coney Barrett separates her personal and religious views from her work as a judge. Lee said critics want to focus more on Barrett’s views as a Catholic than on how she’s actually ruled on certain issues, like abortion. “I have a hunch that this is because your record on the 7th Circuit actually shows that you were able to set aside your personal convictions,” Lee said. “Because that's what you've done when they've conflicted with your duty under the rule of law.” Lee said that’s what he would expect from a judge who considers herself an “originalist” when it comes to ruling on the Constitution. — Ross Terrell

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah reported 1,144 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and five more people have died from the disease. According to the Utah Department of Health, the seven day positivity rate is nearly 14%, and the daily average of cases tops 1,200. Currently, 259 people are hospitalized with the disease, a new record for the state. Health officials also announced 77 new hospitalizations, the most in a single day. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 941,000 people have been tested. — Caroline Ballard

Man Charged In Firearms Trafficking Purchased Nearly 300 Guns

A Las Vegas man is facing charges of making false statements to firearms dealers throughout Utah in order to illegally traffic guns. In an indictment announced Wednesday, Gregory Alan Nelson is accused of spending at least $176,000 while purchasing around 283 guns this year. According to the U.S. District Attorney for Utah, Nelson gave conflicting accounts to different dealers as to why he was buying the guns. 19 of them were eventually recovered at crime scenes in California. The District Attorney also said Nelson did not have a job at the time, and could not have had the money to purchase the guns on his own. The Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the case. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Free Election Day Childcare

Two YMCA centers, one in Taylorsville and one in Ogden, will be offering free childcare on Election Day. Parents can now reserve a four hour time slot at either location for Nov. 3. Due to COVID-19, families have to register online before dropping off kids. The service is free and being covered by Care.com, a marketing website for caregivers. Company officials say all 27 locations across the country will be compliant with health guidelines. Care.com said they conducted a survey of about 2,000 parents and found childcare policies were a top concern for about 90% of them. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Job Recovery In The Mountain West Region

Amidst the economic downturn, Idaho and Utah have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. Idaho has recovered essentially all of its job losses since the spring. Its unemployment rate is the third lowest in the country. Jan Roeser, a regional economist with the Idaho Department of Labor, said people are still flocking to Idaho — many from more-congested, coastal areas. By contrast, Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in all 50 states. That’s primarily due to struggling hospitality and leisure industries, which make up a significant portion of the state’s workforce. Utah ranks number two for unemployment in the country. — Beau Baker, Mountain West News Bureau

BYU Idaho Locking Down On Intentional COVID-19 Spread

Authorities at Brigham Young University's Idaho campus are investigating reports that students are purposefully exposing themselves to COVID-19 in hopes of selling their plasma after they recover. University officials released a statement Monday saying that anyone confirmed to have done so will be suspended and possibly dismissed. People who have recovered from the coronavirus and have antibodies can receive larger payments for donations of their plasma. Coronavirus cases on and around the campus have sharply increased in recent days. — Associated Press