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AM News Brief: Orem Bans Protests At Homes, Fremont Island Sold & Navajo Leaders On Bears Ears

A decorative road sign welcomes visitors to Moab.
Wikimedia Commons
Fremont Island, the third-largest and only privately owned island in the Great Salt Lake, has been purchased. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Monday morning, November 16, 2020


ICU Beds At 85% Capacity

Utah reported a record breaking 5,352 positive COVID-19 cases on Saturday — but health officials say that number is “artificially high.” Technical issues with the state’s data system Friday meant about 1,300 cases weren’t counted until Saturday. More than 2,600 new cases were also reported Sunday. Over the weekend, officials reported 17 people died from the disease. There are currently 484 Utahns hospitalized due to COVID-19 and about 85% of ICU beds are filled statewide. — Lexi Peery

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Orem Bans Protests At Private Residences

The Orem City Council has passed an ordinance that outlaws demonstrations targeting homes. The action follows a protest outside the private residence of Gov. Gary Herbert. The demonstration arose after a statewide mask mandate was announced last week. The ordinance mandates that protesters must stay at least 100 feet from the property line of any residence, subject to misdemeanor violation. The regulation says citizens should be able to be free from unwanted speech in their homes or property. — Associated Press

Conservationists Celebrate As Fremont Island Changes Hands

Fremont Island, the third-largest and only privately owned island in the Great Salt Lake, has been purchased by Jennifer Speers, chair of the Utah Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. The previous owner, an investment group headed by Dave “Heavy D” Sparks of the Diesel Brothers TV show, had sought to build a motor sports venue and a 12,000-unit subdivision on the island. The change in ownership comes as a relief to conservationists, who celebrated the island’s unique role in the ecology of the Great Salt Lake. — David Fuchs

Southern Utah

Moab Set To Enforce COVID-19 Orders

Grand County announced that it will crack down on businesses that defy the statewide mask mandate that went into effect last week. The county has had its own mask mandate in place since August, according to Grand County Commissioner Mary McGann. But local officials haven't actively enforced it, she said, because they worried the health order could be overturned by the state if businesses complained. Read the full story.Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Utah Navajo Leaders Call For Restoration, Expansion Of Bears Ears

Utah Navajo leaders passed a resolution last week asking President-elect Joe Biden to restore Bears Ears National Monument. San Juan County commissioner Kenneth Maryboy is one of those leaders, and he says the current monument isn’t big enough. The resolution asks Biden to include 1.9 million acres in the monument, which is 500,000more than the one created by Barack Obama. Biden has promised to restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments immediately upon taking office. — Kate Groetzinger


Navajo Nation Lockdown

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has issued an executive order closing down the reservation to all but essential business. Government offices and private operations will be shuttered for three weeks in the face of growing community spread of the coronavirus. Schools are closed, and classes will be taught online starting Monday. A separate public health emergency order authorizes a three-week stay-home lockdown order and restricts social gatherings and travel off the Navajo Nation. Only essential activities are allowed. Almost 400 new COVID-19 cases were recorded by the Navajo Health Department from Friday through Sunday along with 4 known deaths. — Diane Maggipinto

The Odds Of Encountering COVID-19

A newly peer-reviewed online tool allows people to assess the risk of going out to a restaurant, a bar or a dinner party during the pandemic. It was peer-reviewed in the scientific journal Nature earlier this month. The tool doesn’t predict the likelihood of catching COVID–19 — but rather the likelihood of encountering someone carrying the virus. The goal is to provide people with information to decide whether the outing is worth the risk. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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