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AM News Brief: Wrongful Death Suit Against Park Service, Wildlife Migration & High School Championships On

High School Football field
Tribune File Photo
Cottonwood High’s football field in 2013.

Friday morning, November 13, 2020

State

Thursday’s COVID-19 Cases

Utah health officials announced a record 3,919 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday — breaking the state’s previous record by nearly a thousand cases. The surge in cases is taking a toll on the state’s hospital system as 83% of intensive care unit beds are full. Nine more people have died from the disease, and the state’s week long positivity rate has risen to 23.2%. — Ross Terrell

As Utah Cases Climb, Minorities Still Disproportionately Affected

At its peaks in April and June, nearly 60% of new cases came from Latino Utahns, even though they make up only 14% of the state’s population. Now, the group accounts for about 20% of new cases. Byron Russell, co-chair of the state’s coronavirus task force multicultural subcommittee, said efforts to shrink that gap appear to be working, like getting tests to people without insurance and working with community organizations to distribute emergency messages in different languages. But the mortality rate among racial minorities is still high. For Native Americans, for example, it’s about four times that of white people. Russell said that has a lot to do with where people live and is too systemic to change in such a short period of time. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

School Meeting Disrupted By Protests

A public meeting in American Fork was disrupted by protesters who characterized the use of masks and facial coverings in schools as child abuse. Alpine School District Superintendent Assistant Kimberly Bird said the protesters were welcomed to participate in the public board meeting Tuesday, but many refused to wear masks inside school office buildings. Police were called to prevent confrontations after some protesters were refused entry. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

High School Championships Go On

High school football championships are underway as one of the few social events allowed in Utah under Governor Gary Herbert’s latest health orders. Several games will be played at Dixie State University and nearby high schools in Southern Utah. Jon Oglesby, assistant director of the Utah High School Activities Association, said safety precautions like limited fan attendance and mask wearing made the tournament possible. State epidemiologist Angela Dunn said Thursday nearly 1,400 athletes and staff were tested, with only 49 positive cases. Dunn said this is an example of social distancing and mask wearing working. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Wrongful Death Suit Against National Park Service

The family of a women's rights activist from Uganda has filed a wrongful death and personal injury claim against the National Park Service after she was decapitated by an unsecured gate at Arches National Park. The claim says newlyweds Esther Nakajjigo and Ludovic Michaud were driving out of the park in June when strong winds blew the metal gate into the side of their car, narrowly missing Michaud. His attorney argues a padlock could have prevented the accident. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Navajo Leaders Warn Of “Uncontrolled Spread” Of Virus

The United States Geological Survey released a much anticipated tool Thursday that maps wildlife migrations in the region. The USGS and several western states formed the Corridor Mapping Team in 2018. The idea was to work across state and agency lines to understand where hoofed animals known as ungulates go for food. It turns out they’ll go pretty far for a proper meal. It’s also gotten more difficult for them thanks to human activity like fencing, roads and energy development. This mapping tool is expected to help land managers and conservationists make decisions that will keep those corridors functional. The group expects to release a second volume next year that will detail even more corridors across western states. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau