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PM News Brief: Air Pollution Costs, 18 More Utahns Die From COVID-19 & 59 Wasted Ducks

A photo of air pollution in Utah.
Brian Albers
A new study from Utah and national researchers found air pollution causes between 2,500 and 8,000 premature deaths in the state each year. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, November 19, 2020


State Audit Finds Problematic Behavior At Utah Department Of Agriculture And Food

Top leadership at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food failed to report conflicts of interest, used government resources for personal trips and possibly gave preferential treatment when awarding the state’s first cannabis-growing licenses, according to a scathing report the Utah Office of the State Auditor released Wednesday. The department’s new leadership said they take the concerns seriously and will be implementing changes to improve transparency and control. Read the full story.David Fuchs

Another Record Setting COVID-19 Update

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he’ll extend the statewide mask requirement, but allow a ban on socializing with people outside your household to expire on Monday. Speaking during a news conference Thursday morning, Herbert said he’s still encouraging people to social distance, but it’s not a mandate — which he previously said was mostly unenforceable. State health officials reported 3,968 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the second highest single day total. Eighteen more people have died from the disease setting a new record. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Unemployment Claims Continue To Decline

The number of Utahns filing unemployment claims continues to drop, as around 32,000 people received benefits last week — down from nearly 42,000 about a month ago. That’s according to data released Thursday by the state’s Department of Workforce Services. Department officials said they have seen a drop in continued claims for the past six months. Since early March, Utah has paid out more than $550 million in traditional benefits. — Ross Terrell

Air Pollution Costing Utah Lives And Money

A new study from Utah and national researchers found air pollution causes between 2,500 and 8,000 premature deaths in the state each year. The study looks at sickness and other health conditions that may come about due to exposure to air pollutants. It found, in Utah, that contributes to an increase in heart and lung disease, asthma and even pneumonia. Researchers also said the economic cost of pollution in the state is about $1.9 billion each year. They calculated that by looking at things like healthcare costs, damage to crops and air quality’s effect on tourism. — Ross Terrell

New Report Details Food Insecurity For Household With Children

Seven percent of Utah households with kids say they sometimes or often don’t have enough food to eat. Nationally that number is 12%. That’s based on a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — a progressive think-tank in Washington D.C. It also found 5% of households with children in the state are “not at all confident” they can afford the food they need next month. The center said their data show increasing SNAP benefits and food assistance should be included in any future pandemic relief packages. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

59 Ducks Found Wasted In Salt Lake City

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is reminding people to use meat they harvest during hunting season, after it said 59 ducks and one Western grebe were recently found wasted. The birds were harvested in Idaho, brought to Utah, and eventually found in a South Salt Lake City dumpster. The division said it is working with Idaho Fish and Game on an investigation, and that they have identified suspects. It is illegal to hunt western grebes in Idaho and to waste harvested meat. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Two-Thirds Of The Inmates At Garfield County Jail Test Positive For COVID-19

Sixty-one of the 93 inmates at the Garfield County jail have tested positive for COVID-19, according to county Sheriff Danny Perkins. He said he doesn’t know how the virus spread throughout the facility since they’ve been taking precautions for months. Perkins said they transferred one inmate from the jail because they had underlying health conditions, but everyone else is asymptomatic or has mild symptoms. He said they’re planning to retest the inmate population at the end of the month. Six staff members have also tested positive for COVID-19 and two are awaiting results. — Lexi Peery, St. George


Hospitals In The Mountain West Continue To Fill Up

Hospitals continue to fill up across the region, and that means some patients may have nowhere to go. Some Idaho doctors now expect to start rationing care as early as December. Wyoming depends on hospitals in states all around it, but those facilities are filling up and some are already turning Wyoming patents away. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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