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PM News Brief: Gubernatorial Campaigning, Navajo Hardship Applications & Romney SCOTUS Support

A photo of Mitt Romney and Amy Coney Barrett.
Courtesy Office of Sen. Mitt Romney
Sen. Mitt Romney, R- UT, and Sen. Mike Lee, R- UT, spoke Monday morning in favor of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, October 26, 2020

State

Utah ICU Beds Reaching Full Capacity As COVID-19 Cases Swell

Around 70% of Utah’s ICU beds were full on Monday, according to Joe Dougherty, a spokesperson with the Utah Department of Public Safety. That’s out of almost 600 beds in the state. Dougherty said there are a number of empty beds in three long-term care facilities that Utah has contracted with to provide care to COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms. He added hospitals in the state have been able to transfer patients that need intensive care to other facilities in the state so far, but Utah could ask the federal government to send volunteer nurses and doctors to staff overflow ICU beds, if needed. Last week, the Utah Hospital Association proposed guidelines to help doctors decide who should receive care, if hospitals run out of intensive care capacity, but Dougherty says the association has not asked the governor to sign it yet. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Romney And Lee Continue To Speak Favorably About SCOTUS Nominee

Sen. Mitt Romney, R- UT, and Sen. Mike Lee, R- UT, spoke Monday morning in favor of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Romney praised Barrett’s credentials and temperament. He also addressed what he sees as a loss of trust in institutions, like law enforcement and the free press, and said it’s essential that citizens have confidence in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile Lee said he believes Barrett will uphold the constitution and won’t legislate from the bench. The Senate voted to confirm Barrett’s to the court Monday evening. Democrats boycotted the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote last week to move Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate. — Emily Means

Chris Peterson Ends In Person Campaigning Due To COVID-19 Surge

The Democratic candidates for Utah governor and lieutenant governor are ending in-person campaigning due to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases. Chris Peterson and Karina Brown’s announcement comes just over a week before Election Day. Peterson, who’s running for governor, said it’s the responsible thing to do to limit the spread of the disease. His opponent, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s campaign manager said in a statement they have no in-person events scheduled for this week or next, which they decided before they knew about Peterson’s plan. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Reports Lowest Single Day Total Of COVID-19 Cases In A Week

Utah reported about 1,200 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, its lowest single day total since last Tuesday. But, only 5,745 more Utahns got tested for the disease, the smallest number of tests in the state in the past two weeks. Monday also marked the first time since last Tuesday that fewer than 300 people are hospitalized for COVID-19. Utah Department of Health data show 299 people are currently receiving care, with 112 of them in the ICU. Officials also announced two more people have died from the disease, bringing the state’s total to 574 since the start of the pandemic. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Mailing In Your Ballot In Southern Utah? Officials Say Do It ASAP

Mail-in ballots in Utah must be postmarked by Nov. 2 for them to count. But in Southern Utah, mail isn’t always postmarked in the region. In a video posted by Washington County, clerk Kim Hafen encourages residents to vote by mail but said people should get their ballots in sooner rather than later because Southern Utah mail is often postmarked up north. But Garfield County Clerk Camille Moore said postmasters throughout the county have been helpful in making sure ballots are counted. The United States Postal Service confirmed ballots will be postmarked locally and hand delivered to election officials in the days leading to Election Day. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Navajo Nation Distributes Applications To Apply For Hardship Funding

The Navajo Nation began distributing paper applications for its hardship relief program Monday before opening the online application portal next week. Elderly tribal members and those with special needs are encouraged to apply early, but the Navajo Times reported many local governments on the reservation ran out of forms within hours of opening this morning. The Tribal government set aside $49 million of its federal CARES act money for the program, and could add more money to it before the end of the year. The online application portal will open Nov. 2, at which point any enrolled tribal member can apply. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Region

Can City Level Legislation Really Impact Climate Change?

Hundreds of cities across the country have made Climate Action Plans that include pledges to reduce emissions. Many have hailed this “bottom up” approach as a way to combat both global warming and federal inaction on the crisis. But according to a new report, just how far city action can go without state or federal backing may be limited. The report analyzed climate action in the largest 100 U.S. cities, and found that less than half have made plans to reduce emissions. Of the cities that have, two-thirds are behind those goals. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau