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AM News Brief: Virus Spike Expected, Bountiful High To Get New Mascot & Orem Owlz Fly For Colorado

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Tuesday morning, December 1, 2020

State

Experts Expect Post-Holiday Virus Spike

New daily COVID-19 cases have declined in Utah in recent days. Monday the state reported 1,897 new cases — down from over 3,000 just over a week ago. Most of the Mountain West region saw a drop in confirmed cases over the holiday, and in all but Idaho and Nevada, positivity rates were also down. But health experts said it’s too early to celebrate. Charla Haley, public information officer at the Utah Department of Health, said many testing facilities closed for Thanksgiving, and that’s having a big impact on the drop in numbers. Haley said they still expect a post-Thanksgiving spike in cases, because some families didn’t follow guidelines and gathered in large groups. Hospitalizations have remained at near-record highs throughout much of the region and are expected to increase with the predicted spike in cases. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

Northern Utah

Bountiful High To Drop Native-Themed Mascot

Bountiful High School announced Monday it’s moving on from its Native American themed mascot. The Brave has been the school’s symbol since 1951 and in a video announcement, Principal Aaron Hogge said it was originally chosen to pay respect to tribes. “I believe leaders and students in the past have had the best of intention to create unity, respect, honor, courage and bravery when they use the Braves mascot,” Hogge said. But he said when you know better, you must do better and after conversations with the public, it was clear they needed a new name. He said they will now start the process of finding a new mascot, but this year’s seniors will still graduate as Braves. — Ross Terrell

Owlz Leave Orem For Colorado

Minor league baseball team the Orem Owlz are moving to Colorado — giving new life to the next season for the eight-team Pioneer League. The plan was unveiled by Major League Baseball Monday. Orem's team will become the Northern Colorado Owlz and join two other teams in that state. The Pioneer League will operate with designated independent clubs in Utah, Colorado, Idaho and Montana. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

Teen Found After Going Missing From Hike

Authorities in Utah found a missing teenager alive on Saturday after he spent the night in freezing temperatures in a remote hiking area north of St. George. The Washington County sheriff's office said 15-year-old Britton Kelsey was treated for symptoms of hypothermia after he was found near the Red Mountain Trail. Family members first reported Kelsey missing on Friday afternoon around 3 o'clock after he became separated from two hiking groups. Deputies sent two helicopters to search for the teenager on Friday. Efforts were called off and resumed on Saturday where a trail of shoe prints led authorities to the teen. — Associated Press

Region

Navajo Nation COVID Cases

The Navajo Health Department's tally of new COVID-19 cases grew by 168 cases Monday. The agency reported no additional known deaths. Residents are under a three-week stay-at-home order with exceptions for essential workers and residents' essential needs such as food, medication and emergencies. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the Navajo Area Indian Health Services is working on a vaccine distribution plan to deploy once a viable inoculation is available. — Associated Press

Tribal Lawmakers Consider Junk Food Tax

Lawmakers on the Navajo Nation are considering a bill to extend a 2% sales tax on unhealthy food and beverages sold on the reservation. The tribe approved the Healthy Diné Nation Act six years ago to tax food with minimal or no nutritional value. The tax expires this year unless lawmakers vote to extend it. The bill refines what would be subject to the tax and clarifies its administration and enforcement. The levy has generated more than $7.5 million over the past few years, meant to fund things like wellness centers and walking trails. — Associated Press