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PM News Brief: Burgess Owens Campaign Finances, Utah Hospital Transfers & Wood Burning Restrictions

A photo of a doctor in protective COVID gear, sitting in a hospital hallway.
Alberto Giuliani
/
Wikimedia Commons
Utah’s hospitals are nearing a breaking point because of COVID-19: too many patients and not enough resources. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, October 27, 2020

State

Dallin Oaks Weighs In On Black Lives Matter

Dallin H. Oaks, the first counselor in the presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said Tuesday it’s an “eternal truth” that Black lives matter. In his sermon to Brigham Young University students, he didn’t voice explicit support for the national movement, rather focusing on the “universally acceptable message” that Black lives matter. His statement comes after Church President Russel M. Nelson condemned prejudice and racism during General Conference earlier this month. But Oaks also discouraged people against tearing down statues or changing the names of institutions named after people associated with slavery, in part due to calls to rename the university. — Lexi Peery, St. George

COVID-19 Update, Utah Announces 1,145 New Cases

The Utah Department of Health reported 1,145 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Four more people have died of the disease as well — two of them were hospitalized at the time of death, and two were long-term care facility residents. The positivity rate of tests over the last week is 17.4%. Every county in the state — except for Kane and Rich — currently has a “very high” incidence rate of COVID-19. — Caroline Ballard

Wood Burning Restrictions Take Effect Sunday

Utah’s seasonal wood burning restrictions go into effect Nov. 1. The state’s Division of Air Quality said Tuesday wood burning contributes to pollution due to the winter inversion, when warm air at higher elevations trap pollutants in the bowls of Utah’s valleys. Officials said wood burning releases volatile compounds and restricting it is an effective way to reduce emissions. While restrictions are in place, the division will issue action alerts to let Utahns know what is and isn’t allowed. When mandatory action guidelines are issued for wood burning, fines can be nearly $300 per day. — Ross Terrell

Online Scams Have Jumped Since Beginning Of The Pandemic

The Better Business Bureau said Tuesday online purchase scams have been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic. These happen when people order a product online, pay for it and then never receive it. The bureau said early on, people purchased items online that were scarce in stores, like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and masks. Folks ages 35-44 were the most likely to be victims of this kind of a scam, while older adults were more likely to lose more money on these schemes. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Flag On The Play: Burgess Owens Campaign’s Contributions Exceed Legal Limit

Republican Utah Congressional Candidate Burgess Owens has accepted more than $130,000 in campaign contributions above the legal limit, the New York Times reported. The donations in question are about 40% of the cash that Owens’ campaign has on hand. When campaigns receive donations above the legal limit, they’re required to refund or reallocate them. The Federal Election Commission notified his campaign about one set of donations in August, which the campaign refunded, according to the Times. Owens’ campaign told the Times that “excess contributions” can happen without their knowledge. They later told the Deseret News it was refunding or reallocating the money. In its most recent financial disclosures, which go up to Oct. 15, the campaign did not report any refunds. — Sonja Hutson

Salt Lake City Airport Opens New Concourse

Concourse B opened Tuesday morning at the Salt Lake City International Airport, completing Phase 1 of the multi-billion dollar rebuild. The new concourse has 21 gates for seven carriers. Now, all airlines are operating out of new facilities at what’s being called “The New SLC.” Concourse A-west opened six weeks ago. It includes six international gates and is used primarily by Delta Air Lines. Demolition is now underway on the old airport structure to prep for Phase 2. — Diane Maggipinto

Region

Utah Hospital’s Patient Transfer Capacity

Utah’s hospitals are nearing a breaking point because of COVID-19: too many patients and not enough resources. This could create a domino effect in the region as Utah has a number of major medical facilities that often take patients from across the region. Idaho’s Hospital Association warns that patient transfers to Utah could end in just seven to 10 days. For now, Utah’s State Hospital Association said facilities intend to honor transfer agreements with out-of-state hospitals, but state health officials said they’re giving others fair warning if transfers don’t happen like they usually do. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureaus