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AM News Brief: SL County Mayor’s Race, School Contact Tracing & Utah Leaders On Electoral System

Photo of students wearing mask in a classroom.
Courtesy Washington County School District
/
Utah’s State Board of Education voted Thursday to start sending monthly enrollment reports to the Salt Lake County Health Department. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, November 6, 2020

State

Utah Leaders Express Faith In The System

Utah’s elected officials are calling for faith in the country’s electoral system. Some of them responded to the president's false claims that voter fraud is what's putting him behind in the election.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney said in a statement “the votes will be counted. If there are irregularities alleged, they will be investigated and ultimately resolved in the courts.”

Republican Governor-elect Spencer Cox said he didn’t see the president’s press conference, but he asked people not to believe what he called “unfounded allegations that destroy trust in the process.”

Outgoing governor Gary Herbert said the country should ensure every eligible American is able to vote and that their ballots are counted. — Sonja Hutson

No Change In Utah’s Legislative Leadership

The Republican majority leadership in the Utah state Senate and House of Representatives will stay the same next year. The majority caucus held elections Thursday night. Sen.Stuart Adams will remain President and Sen. Evan Vickers is still Majority Leader. In the House, Rep. Brad Wilson will be speaker again and Rep. Francis Gibson will serve as majority leader. The next general session of the state Legislature starts in January. — Sonja Hutson

COVID-19 Policy Changes Could Come Next Week

Utah set two new COVID-19 records Thursday: 2,807 new cases in a single-day and 389 current hospitalizations. During a press conference, Gov. Gary Herbert continued to stress individual responsibility for slowing the spread of the virus. He said he met with legislative leaders and some policy changes could be announced next week. Currently, there are 22 counties with high transmission levels. On Thursday, Millard County moved from high to moderate risk. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

Staggs Concedes Salt Lake County Mayor’s Race

Republican mayor of Riverton Trent Staggs has conceded the race for Salt Lake County mayor against Democratic incumbent Jenny Wilson. Staggs said on Facebook that he's proud of the race that he and his team ran, and he'll continue working hard for Riverton, the county and the state. Wilson said on Twitter it’s an honor to serve Salt Lake County residents and she looks forward to the next four years. — Sonja Hutson

Effort To Improve School Contact Tracing

Utah’s State Board of Education voted Thursday to start sending monthly enrollment reports to the Salt Lake County Health Department. The goal is to speed up the process of contact tracing. Health officials said it can take three to four days for a school to find out that a student tested positive for COVID-19. They aren’t notified about where a student goes to school when test results are passed along, so they have to ask districts. The change only applies to schools in Salt Lake County, but board members also voted to work with other local health departments to come up with a statewide approach. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Snowbirds Still Migrating To St. George For The Winter

St. George has already canceled events like the Snow Canyon Half Marathon and the Turkey Trot, and city officials said it’s to limit people coming to the area. However, St. George is a popular place for snowbirds and second homeowners. Harriet Gesteland and her husband are in their 80s and switch between living in Ivins and Salt Lake City. She said even though she’s frustrated to see fewer people wearing masks in Southern Utah, they’ll likely spend more time there to avoid the winter weather. St. George Mayor Jon Pike said the city is taking precautions like canceling fall events, and people are still welcome if they follow public health directions. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region

A County Health Department In Montana Resigns Over COVID-19

The full four-person staff of the Pondera County Health Department in northwest Montana resigned this week. According to the Great Falls Tribune, that was because county commissioners wouldn’t support some of their demands in the pandemic response, including more staff and support for their health recommendations. This comes as the region — like much of the Mountain West — is facing a dramatic rise in hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau