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PM News Brief: Massive COVID-19 Records, U Cancels Season Opener & Election Polling

A photo of the inside of Rice Eccles Stadium.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
The University of Utah has canceled Saturday’s season opening football game due to a number of players testing positive for COVID-19. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, November 6, 2020

State

2,987 COVID-19 Cases And 17 Deaths

For the second time in as many days, Utah set another single day, COVID-19 case record as health officials reported 2,987 new cases. Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement these numbers “are exactly what we've been warning Utah residents about for weeks.” He said he’ll soon be announcing new policies meant to address the ongoing surge. It wasn’t the only new high mark. Seventeen more people died from the disease and 15 of them were either hospitalized or living in a long term care facility at the time of their death. The state’s health department did announce it plans to explore using Google and Apple’s “exposure” technology to alert Utahns’ phones if they’ve come in contact with a positive case of COVID-19. — Ross Terrell

Reconsidering Pre Election Polls

Y2 Analytics partner Quin Monson told KUER’s RadioWest Friday that polls that underestimate President Donald Trump, including here in Utah, need to be examined. The data and research company released results last weekend that put Trump just 7 points ahead of Biden in Utah. But as of Friday, Trump is leading by 21 points. Monson said inaccurate polls are likely caused by pollsters having a hard time getting diehard Trump supporters to respond to them. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Attorney General Taking Personal Time To Help Other States’ Election Lawsuits

Utah's newly reelected attorney general said he is taking personal leave time to help support President Trump's legal challenges to election procedures. Trump has claimed without evidence that the vote is unfair and rigged. Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes said he'll be helping support litigation in several states dealing with what he called a "compromised" election process. Reyes said that he is not taking a leave of absence, but rather a weekend to advise on these cases. The left-leaning nonprofit Alliance for a Better Utah issued a sharp rebuke of Reyes, criticizing him for preparing to contest election results that he disagrees with. — Associated Press & Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Utah’s 4th Congressional District Still Too Close To Call

In the race for Utah’s 4th congressional district, Rep. Ben McAdams, D-UT, has pulled back ahead by a little over 400 votes. As of Friday afternoon, McAdams has 47.6% of the vote and his GOP challenger Burgess Owens has about 47.5%. Utah County, which heavily favors Owens, is almost done counting and only has about 1,500 provisional ballots left in the district. Salt Lake County, which slightly favors McAdams, estimates it still has an estimated tens of thousands left to count. Either campaign could request a recount if the final vote tallies are within .25% of each other. — Sonja Hutson

Two Guilty Pleas In Salt Lake Police Car Destruction Case

Two men charged with helping to flip and damage a police car at a Salt Lake City protest in May have admitted to criminal charges. The Deseret News reports 21-year-old Connor Matthew Peebles and 19-year-old Ian Eric Nightingale pleaded guilty to criminal mischief. The pleas entered in 3rd District Court were part of a deal with prosecutors to reduce their charges. Court documents say a police officer was driving a marked patrol car near the Salt Lake City Main Library when people protesting the killing of George Floyd surrounded the car and later flipped the vehicle onto its hood. — Associated Press

The U Cancels First Football Game And Real Salt Lake Player Contracts COVID-19

The University of Utah has canceled Saturday’s season opening football game due to a number of players testing positive for COVID-19. The U said it wouldn’t have enough scholarship athletes to play with some team members in isolation due to contact tracing.The Pac-12 conference voted in September to play a shortened season. A Real Salt Lake player has also tested positive for COVID-19. Team officials said their Sunday game at Rio Tinto Stadium is still on schedule to be played. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Environmentalists Share Concerns About Rare Earth Metal Production

Engineers at a uranium mill in San Juan County have figured out how to produce a concentrate of rare earth elements from North American ore. That’s a big deal since China controls around 80% of the market for rare earth metals, which are used in everything from missiles to iPhones. The elements occur in a substance from Georgia, which the mill can process for both the metals and Uranium. But environmental groups are less than thrilled with the development. They say the mill should be winding down, not looking for new business models. The mill’s operator said they will continue refining the rare earths process, before deciding whether to move forward with commercial production. Read the full story.Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Region

Elected Officials Spread More Disinformation On Election Results

President Trump’s accusations of widespread voter fraud are based on no evidence. Still, they are gaining some traction in the region. Montana’s newly reelected Republican Senator is asking his supporters to help fund the president’s legal fight. And Utah’s Attorney General has travelled to Nevada to assist with the Trump campaign’s lawsuits. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau