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PM News Brief: Nearly 4,000 COVID-19 Cases, Accepting Joe Biden’s Win & Online Schooling

A photo of Gov. Gary Herbert.
Laura Seitz
/
Deseret News
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he’s still leaving enforcement of new statewide COVID-19 restrictions up to local authorities, even after the Iron County Sheriff said he would not do so. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, November 12, 2020

State

Governor Leaving Mandate Enforcements Up To Local Authorities

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he’s still leaving enforcement of new statewide COVID-19 restrictions up to local authorities, even after the Iron County Sheriff said he would not do so. Herbert said refusing to enforce the new restrictions does not help the state’s fight against the coronavirus, and he expects elected officials and law enforcement to uphold the law. “I'm a big local control guy,” Herbert said. “And so I'll leave it to the people of Iron County to make that determination with their elected officials what they want to do.” Utah health officials announced a record 3,919 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, breaking the state’s previous record by nearly 1,000 cases. State numbers also show 83% of intensive care unit beds are full. — Sonja Hutson

Spencer Cox Explains Why Some Republicans Won’t Accept Joe Biden’s Win

Utah’s Governor-elect Spencer Cox said the reason why many Republicans haven’t acknowledged Joe Biden as president-elect is because of how polarizing politics is. During a recent interview with CNN, Cox said politics has become like a religion for some people. And when that happens, he said anyone who disagrees with their beliefs is considered evil. “Unfortunately too many politicians are scared that if they say something nice about someone else that they’ll lose their position,” Cox said, “and that’s just untenable, we can’t be like this as a country.” He also said the public shouldn't accept baseless allegations of election fraud as fact but should let investigations and lawsuits around the election play out. — Emily Means

Utah’s Weekly Unemployment Update

Demand for Utah unemployment benefits has remained steady according to the Department of Workforce Services. DWS reported Thursday, just over 4,000 Utahns applied for first-time benefits last week, which is down significantly from the April high of more than 33,000 new claims. But it is consistent with the number of people filing for the first time throughout the last three months. And while the number of Utahns receiving benefits has dropped steadily since May, nearly 30,000 people remain unemployed. — Jon Reed

New York Nurses Coming To Utah’s Aid

Nurses from New York have arrived in Utah to help the state during its current surge in COVID-19 cases. The 31 nurses from NewYork-Presbyterian hospital system are currently working in Intermountain Healthcare’s emergency departments, surgical units and ICUs. It’s part of an exchange between the two healthcare systems. In April, 100 Utah healthcare professionals traveled to New York to help them out. Intermountain Healthcare said it is also hiring around 200 traveling nurses and adding ICU beds to deal with rising numbers of coronavirus cases. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Joins 19 State Cannabis Regulators Association

Utah is joining 18 other states to create a new group aimed at developing standards for the marijuana industry. The 19 states announced the group Thursday called the Cannabis Regulators Association. Members say they aren’t advocating for or against marijuana legalization, but will provide information and best practices to guide decisions. Utah opened its first medical cannabis dispensary in March. All but six states in the U.S have some form of legalized cannabis or hemp. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Twenty Schools Moving Online Due To COVID-19 Outbreak

Twenty Utah schools shifted to online learning Wednesday, after facing significant COVID-19 outbreaks — 14 were in the Jordan School District. Schools have struggled to contain the virus after all but one public district in the state opened with some form of in-person classes. The state’s department of health recommends schools close if they hit 15 total cases or 1% of the school’s population contracts the virus. As of Thursday, the Davis School District has had the most cases of COVID-19 in the state and nearly 500 are active. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Anti-Government Sentiment Playing Out With Opposition To Utah’s Mask Mandate

Around 100 maskless protesters waved “don’t tread on me” flags and chanted “freedom” on Wednesday in St. George. They called for an end to Gov. Gary Herbert’s latest orders and the statewide mask mandate, which they think is the latest example of government overreach. But University of Utah law professor Teneille Brown said even though people may not like them, the governor’s orders are lawful. She said there’s a “strong libertain streak” of people thinking the Constitution means there can be no infringement of people’s liberties, which she said is not the case. Brown said at this point, there’s no amount of science that will change some people’s minds. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Meadows Could Play A Key Role In The Fight Against Climate Change

Researchers in our region found that it’s not just trees that can help in the fight against climate change. Meadows also provide an efficient way to keep carbon out of the atmosphere. A new study found that healthy meadows can actually remove the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere per acre as tropical rainforests. On the flip side, the study found that unhealthy meadows can release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. — Noah Glick, Mountain West News Bureau