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PM News Brief: Unsustainable COVID-19 Cases, 7,100 Tons Of Debris & Hideout Annexation

A photo of fallen trees and power lines.
Brian Albers
City crews estimate a total of more than 7,100 tons of storm debris has been removed in curbside pickup and an additional 1,300 tons from brown bins following September’s windstorm. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, October 16, 2020


Utah’s September Unemployment Report

Nearly 83,000 Utahns were unemployed last month according to numbers released Friday by the state’s Department of Workforce Services. Utah’s unemployment rate of 5% increased from August, but still remained below the national rate of about 8%. There were also close to 15,000 fewer jobs in September 2020 compared to last year. Department officials said despite the unemployment rate increase “Utah’s economic rebound continues.” While the leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest drop in jobs year over year, construction, transportation and the financial activities industries recorded job growth. — Ross Terrell

Unsustainable COVID-19 Spike

Friday marked the second day in a row Utah neared its single day COVID-19 record as health officials announced another 1,496 cases. That’s just five shy of the record and two fewer than Thursday. Gov. Gary Herbert called the current spike in new cases “unsustainable” and warned if the state doesn’t get it under control, health officials expect four more counties to be moved into the high transmission level next week. That would mean tighter social restrictions or even a mask requirement. Officials also announced Friday eight more people have died from the disease, bringing the state’s death toll to 537. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Southern Utah

Encircle Opening St. George’s First LGBTQ Resource Center

St. George is getting its own LGBTQ resource center. Encircle already has locations in Provo and Salt Lake City which serve youth and families, and this will be its third in Utah. The center is in a newly renovated home in the city’s downtown area and people across Southern Utah can come for therapy, events or just to hang out. Julie Benson, the director of the new location said when she first accepted the job she wondered how community members would react to a place like this, but has been amazed at the support. Read the full story. Lexi Peery

Northern Utah

Ankle Monitoring Over Incarceration? Davis County Jail Tries It Out

Non-violent prisoners in the Davis County Jail now may opt for ankle monitoring over incarceration. Sheriff Kelly Sparks said the program aims to lower taxpayer cost of imprisonment and help offenders have better outcomes with rehabilitation. Funding comes from federal CARES Act money, though officials said it should be self-sustained by the end of the year. The first seven inmates start the program Friday. There is a capacity of 25 participants now and Sparks said they intend to grow the program as needed. Those participating in the program may be subjected to drug testing at the County Work Center. Sheriff Sgt. Ron Rowe noted the program allows individuals to stay and work in their community, get treatment, be with their loved ones and gives them a better chance to succeed than being in jail. — Diane Maggipinto

Salt Lake City Clears 7,100 Tons Of Debris From Windstorm As Cleanup Continues

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall said Friday, the city’s "monumental coordinated clean-up effort" following September’s windstorm is nearly finished. Mendenhall said in a statement with streets and storm drains now cleared, they are ready to handle tree stumps and start repairing sidewalks. This marks stage three of the clean up process. Residents are encouraged to continue using brown bins throughout the city for green waste from the storm and up to two additional containers can be requested while they last. City crews estimate a total of more than 7,100 tons of storm debris has been removed in curbside pickup and an additional 1,300 tons from brown bins. — Bob Nelson

BYU Study Finds Political Ideology Has Minimal Effect On COVID-19 Vaccine Views

Since early March, when the coronavirus pandemic began the response has been politicized — from wearing masks to closing businesses and cancelling events. But a new study from Brigham Young University found when it comes to a COVID-19 vaccine, political ideology plays a rather small role in determining whether a person will take it. Brian Poole, one of the study’s authors, said instead that’s primarily driven by how much do a person agree with vaccines in general and how badly they thought the virus was impacting America. The study also found most concerns were about potential side effects and the vaccine’s effectiveness. — Ross Terrell

Hideout Town Council Taking Annexing Vote

The Hideout Town Council planned to vote Friday night on whether to annex land from Summit County, without Summit’s permission. The council canceled its meeting Thursday evening due to technical difficulties. A recent state law allowed the small town in Wasatch County to annex across county lines without Summit’s approval. That law was repealed by the Legislature in August but the repeal doesn’t take effect until Oct. 20. Summit County sued to block the annexation attempt, but a judge ruled Thursday that Hideout can move forward. Summit County and Park City have opposed Hideout’s annexation attempt because they want the land in question to remain as low-density open space. Hideout officials said they want to use the land to develop community services. — Emily Means

Region And Beyond

Drought, Wildfire And Heat Put Mountain West In Climate Change’s Crosshairs

Drought, wildfire and record-breaking heat are all part of the current climate landscape in the Mountain West region. It’s a triple whammy that’s expected to continue into the coming months. Aside from New Mexico, all states in our region experienced above average temperatures in September. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials are saying 2020 has a pretty good shot of turning in the hottest year ever as extreme drought persists across Nevada, Utah and Colorado. The region has also seen some of the largest fires in its recorded history. — Beau Baker, Mountain West News Bureau

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