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PM News Brief: COVID-19 Relief Package, Paul Petersen Sentenced & UTA Fares

Utah Transit Authority bus
KUER File
/

Tuesday evening, December 1, 2020

State

19 More Utahns Die From COVID-19

According to the Utah Department of Health, 19 more people have died as a result of COVID-19. Six of them were long-term care facility residents and one person was between 25 and 44 years old. So far, 890 Utahns have died from the disease since the pandemic began. The agency also reported 2,510 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. There are 575 people currently hospitalized with the disease. — Caroline Ballard

Utah’s Booming Mining Industry

The Utah Geological Survey has released its annual report for 2019, which offers a year-end look-back at the mining activity in the state. The report’s lead author Stephanie Mills said the uptick Utah saw last year stemmed from an increase in commodity prices. Gold, in particular, had a standout-year in 2019 —a trend that’s carried over into 2020. Read the full story. David Fuchs

Romney Announces Bipartisan COVID-19 Relief Proposal

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, joined several members of Congress Tuesday, to announce a bipartisan proposal for another coronavirus relief package. The $908 billion deal would provide money for small businesses and additional unemployment insurance. Romney said it would also temporarily pause COVID-19 lawsuits filed against businesses which would give “states enough time to put in place their own protections.” “And let me note that any state that doesn't put in place protections hasn't been thinking this through very carefully,” Romney said. Utah passed a law earlier this year that gives businesses immunity from lawsuits if someone is exposed to COVID-19 on their premises. Senate leader Mitch McConnell said after the announcement, any coronavirus relief package would be part of a larger year-end spending bill. — Sonja Hutson

Tax Commission Reports Errors With 13,000 Utahns

The Utah State Tax Commission said it sent inaccurate billing statements to around 13,000 Utahns who filed taxes this year. It attributed the errors to what it called “system limitations.” The due date to file 2019 taxes was pushed back to July 15 because of the pandemic, which caused some confusion, and meant certain penalties and interest were calculated incorrectly. The commission said that affected Individual income tax and corporate tax. People who overpaid interest or penalties will be notified and refunded the money. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Transit Authority Changing Up Fares

The Utah Transit Authority has changed the fares for some of its services. Its one-way, base adult rate of $2.50 will stay the same. The transit authority has dropped the cost for special passes for youths and seniors, while fares for UTA’s premium services, like Express and Ski Buses are now $5. But its ticket vending machines will no longer sell the Park City 30 day option or monthly pass. Officials said it’s all an effort to simplify its ticketing system. — Ross Terrell

Region

States In The Mountain West Score Poorly For COVID-19 Social Distancing

The latest results of a nationwide survey Tuesday, show that Americans have abandoned social distancing measures at high rates in recent months. That’s especially true in the Mountain West region. Since April, researchers with Harvard and Northeastern Universities have been surveying Americans on their COVID-19 prevention habits. The most recent results show an increase in mask-wearing, but a sharp decrease in social distancing across the board. Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Utah all score under 40. Those states are also suffering from some of the worst outbreaks. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Paul Petersen Sentenced For Illegal Adoption Scheme

A former Arizona politician who ran an illegal adoption scheme involving women from the Marshall Islands was sentenced to six years in federal prison. The sentence issued Tuesday in Arkansas to former Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen is the first of three punishments he'll face. Authorities said Petersen illegally paid women from Islands to come to the U.S. and give up their babies in at least 70 adoption cases in Arizona, Utah and Arkansas. Petersen faces sentencing next month for convictions in Utah and Arizona. — Associated Press