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PM News Brief: COVID-19 Case Record, Transgender Remembrance & Department of Corrections Leadership

A photo of a pathway lined with Trans flags on both sides.
Sonja Hutson
On Friday evening, LGBTQ advocates in Utah will read the names of more than 300 transgender people who have died worldwide over the past year. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, November 20, 2020


Transgender Day Of Remembrance

On Friday evening, LGBTQ advocates in Utah will read the names of more than 300 transgender people who have died worldwide over the past year. Candice Metzler, executive director for the Transgender Education Advocates of Utah, said even though the event is on Facebook, it’s a chance for the community to mourn together on a national day of remembrance. But she said it also brings attention to systemic violence against trans people. A report from the Human Rights Campaign shows at least 37 transgender people have been killed this year in the United States — the deadliest year the organization has recorded — and Black trans women are disproportionately impacted. Advocates say it’s hard to get an accurate count of incidents of transgender violence because the cases are underreported. — Emily Means

Mike Haddon Moving From Corrections To Pardons And Parole

The executive director of Utah’s Department of Corrections Mike Haddon is stepping down effective Dec. 12. His departure comes as the department tries to get a grip on a COVID-19 outbreak at the state prison in Draper and in other facilities. Six inmates who contracted the disease have died and there are nearly 800 cases system wide. Haddon will next serve as the executive director of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. He’s been with the Department of Corrections for 14 years and has served as executive director for a little more than two years. — Ross Terrell

Utah Sets New Single Day COVID-19 Record

Utah continues to top its record for single day COVID-19 cases. Friday, the state’s Department of Health reported 4,588 new cases and there are 533 people hospitalized with the disease. Currently, 94% of ICU beds in Utah’s referral hospitals are full. Those are larger facilities with more resources, and where many rural patients are transferred. Another 17 people have died from the disease — one of them was a Salt Lake County woman between the ages of 25 and 44. — Caroline Ballard

Utah’s October Unemployment Summary

Utah had about 8,400 fewer non-farm jobs last month compared to 2019 according to the Department of Workforce Services October employment summary. That’s down about a half percent. But the unemployment rate continues to improve, with 4.1% of Utahns out of work in October — down from 5% in September. Nationally, unemployment was at 6.9% last month. The state reports that half of Utah’s private-sector, major industry groups like construction and manufacturing actually gained jobs in the past year. — Caroline Ballard


State Legislatures Across The Mountain West Figuring Out COVID-19 Plans

Almost all legislative sessions across the Mountain West region are slated to begin in January. But the COVID-19 surge may change things. There’s talk of delaying sessions but little conversation so far of moving procedures fully online. Even if legislators in the region wanted that, it would be complicated. Various state house and senate rules would need updating to allow for things like remote voting or debate. — Maggie Mullen

Democrats Urge Joe Biden To Select Deb Haaland As Interior Secretary

Over 50 House Democrats are asking President-elect Joe Biden to make Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, secretary of the Department of the Interior. They wrote a letter to Biden this week asking him to make history by appointing a Native American to a cabinet position for the first time. Haaland is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna. She told Reuters this week there should be more renewable energy development on public lands. The federal government manages nearly 23 million acres of land in the state of Utah. Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, who’s retiring in January, is also a potential Interior secretary pick. He told reporters this week that he is on Biden’s short list. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

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