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PM News Brief: U Football Canceled Again, St. George Bars & Seeking COVID-19 Care

A photo of Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Edgar Zuniga Jr.
/
Flickr
The University of Utah has canceled Saturday’s football game after 17 players and staff tested positive for COVID-19. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, November 13, 2020

State

Artificially Low COVID-19 Cases And 14 More Deaths

Utah health officials reported 2,150 new cases of COVID-19 Friday. But they said that number is artificially low, due to technical problems with the state’s data system. Those issues did not affect the health department's information on deaths though and officials announced 14 more people have died from the disease. Two of them were between the ages of 25 and 44. So far, about 1.1 million Utahns have been tested, but the seven day average positivity rate is greater than 23%. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

The U And BYU Announce New Law School Fellowship

Brigham Young University and the University of Utah’s law schools are creating a new program to help recruit students from under-represented backgrounds who face significant hardships. The Achievement Fellowships Program will cover full tuition for three years and give students access to mentorship resources. The schools are partnering with Utah law firms and the awards will cover costs starting next fall. — Ross Terrell

University Of Utah Cancels Second Football Game

The University of Utah has canceled Saturday’s football game after 17 players and staff tested positive for COVID-19. There are 11 more players in isolation due to contact tracing. The university also called off last week’s season opener. Athletic Director Mark Harlan said now their attention shifts to keeping the players in good spirits. “We’ve had two straight weeks feeling like you can make it and then on Friday you don’t,” Harlan said. “We still have to address the hurt and pain and how we all pick ourselves up off the floor.” Harlan said the players are doing their best to keep from catching the virus but with the ongoing surge in the state and Salt Lake County, that’s just hard to do. He said the U still plans to play out the rest of its season. — Ross Terrell

Mountain Transportation System Kicks Off Two Day Summit

Organizers behind the Mountain Transportation System are hosting a summit Friday and Saturday. They’re inviting the public to weigh in on what could be a comprehensive transit plan throughout the Wasatch Front and Back. The project aims to develop an efficient and sustainable transit network to help address future growth, and includes a major transit project for Little Cottonwood Canyon. Proposals so far include combinations of increased bus service, underground rail lines and gondolas. Organizers hope to select a final plan next month. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Northern Corridor Environmental Impact Statement Released Amid Concerns

The final environmental impact statement for the proposed Northern Corridor in Washington County came out Friday and a final decision on the project could come as soon as January. Proponents of the project want a multi-lane highway to reduce traffic in the county, but the preferred route would cut through federally protected Mojave desert tortoise habitat. Tom Butine, the president of Conserve Southwest Utah said the final document doesn’t sufficiently address the group’s concerns, like recent wildfires in the area. The Bureau of Land Management said over 15,000 public comments were submitted and taken into consideration. Those wishing to submit protests against the project have 30 days to send them in writing. Read the full story. Lexi Peery, St. George

St. George Limits Stand Alone Bars In Downtown Arts District

The St. George City Council approved an ordinance Thursday that would put a cap of four stand-alone bars allowed in the downtown arts district. The Spectrum reported three permits are already accounted for, and a fourth one is in the early stages of seeking the city's approval. The permit for the fourth bar, which would be located in Ancestor Square, was approved by the city's planning commission on Tuesday. That permit will now head to the city council for approval. — Associated Press

Main Highway To Cedar Breaks National Monument Closed Down

With the onset of winter weather, the main highway to Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah is now closed for the season. The National Park Service announced Friday, the state’s Department of Transportation closed Highway 148 on Monday due to heavy snowfall. Officials said 674,000 people visited this summer. That’s about 35% more visitors than in 2019. The Cedar Breaks National Monument itself is still open for visitors. Drivers will have to get there via Highway 143, which will stay open except in cases of severe weather. — Roddy Nikpour

National Park Service Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The National Park Service is facing a $270 million lawsuit tied to allegations of negligence in the death of a visitor to Arches National Park in Utah. Historically, suing the federal government is tough, since the doctrine of sovereign immunity protected them from civil suits. Legal experts say these types of cases usually settle before they reach trial. — Beau Baker, Mountain West News Bureau

Region/Nation

Patients In The Mountain West Traveling To Find COVID-19 Care

As hospitals run out of space in the region, some people are fleeing to states that have stricter COVID-19 policies. An increasing number of Idahoans sick with COVID-19 are crossing into neighboring Washington state to get treatment. That’s according to Cassie Sauer with the Washington Hospital Association which surveyed hospitals in the state. Sauer said Washington healthcare workers are upset that they have to pick up the slack for Idaho’s lack of action on limiting gatherings and mask mandates. Under federal law, hospitals must take patients with life-threatening issues, regardless of where they’re from — unless they run out of room. Colorado officials warn their hospitals could soon start running out of room, and some Utah hospitals already have. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau