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AM News Brief: Limiting Surgeries, Imposing Curfews & Investigating Former Utah Ag Commissioner

Photo of the intermountain health care hospital
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Intermountain Healthcare is beginning to implement its surge plan to handle a flood of patients with COVID-19. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, November 19, 2020

State

Utah’s Missing And Murdered Indigenous Task Force

Native American Utahns shared stories of losing family members Wednesday night with a state task force formed to study the missing and murdered Indigenous women crisis. So, far the group has only met twice because of COVID-19. Denae Shanidiin, a Navajo woman, shared a story with the committee. She lives in Salt Lake City and said the murder of her 19-year-old aunt on the Navajo Nation was never solved. “This violence affects every singleI Indigneous person,” she said. “And the fact that we’re just now looking at this kind of violence is … just too late.” The task force is set to expire at the end of this month, but will likely be extended through 2023. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Former Ag Commissioner Faces Scrutiny

An investigation of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food under former Commissioner Kerry Gibson has found issues with the agency's former practices. Details show Gibson took state cars on personal vacations, improperly upgraded his hotel rooms and airplane seats and asked the department to reimburse him for costs he'd already charged to his state purchase card. Auditors also were concerned about accusations of cronyism and how the department has distributed medical marijuana licenses. — Associated Press

IHC Limiting Some Surgeries

Intermountain Healthcare is beginning to implement its surge plan to handle a flood of patients with COVID-19. Dr. Rob Ferguson, surgical operations chief, said the plan was developed months ago. To free up space and beds, preserve supplies and allow caregivers to treat those most in need, some surgeries that require hospital admission will be delayed. Ferguson said IHC will still provide care for urgent situations and emergency patients. — Diane Maggipinto

No Place Like Home For The Holidays

Utah doctors have one recommendation for families this holiday season: don’t spend Thanksgiving with people who don’t live under the same roof. But if people choose to meet anyway, they offer some advice on how to limit infections. Ideally, people should’ve already started to quarantine and, if not, should get tested several days before the holiday to make sure they are not infected. They also advise hosting dinner outside and wearing masks at all times other than while eating. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Region/Nation

“Softer” COVID-19 Restrictions

Shutdown orders fell like dominoes across the Mountain West in the spring, but now, officials are hesitant to implement them, fearing deeper economic damage in the absence of federal aid. That has led some states and communities to impose softer restrictions, like curfews and early business closures. Public health experts said this approach is a mixed bag and it’s still largely up to individual compliance, including wearing a mask and avoiding indoor settings. In the mountain west, Idaho and Wyoming still lack a statewide mask mandate. — Beau Baker, Mountain West News Bureau