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PM News Brief: 19th Century Artifacts, Drought Conditions Worsen & LGBTQ Scorecard

A photo of an artifact bowl.
Courtesy of Utah Transit Authority
A construction company found 19th-century artifacts in Salt Lake City during a job for the Utah Transit Authority. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, December 3, 2020

State

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said during a press conference Thursday, he can see the light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic. Herbert said with a vaccine expected to arrive this month and becoming fully available by the spring, 2021 should be a great year. But until then, Utahns still need to wear masks and practice social distancing. Health officials reported another 3,945 cases Thursday and a record number of people are hospitalized for the disease. Herbert said he plans to keep the statewide mask mandate in place for the near future. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Utah Unemployment Update

About 3,500 Utahns filed new unemployment claims last week and more than 27,000 people continued to receive benefits. That’s according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Workforce Services. Both numbers are down compared to the week before but DWS officials said that number may be artificially low due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Still, more than 2,500 Utahns ended their unemployment claims during that same time span. — Ross Terrell

Drought Conditions Worsen In Utah

Prolonged drought worsened in Utah over the last week. The U.S Drought Monitor released its most recent data Thursday morning — which show nearly 70% of the state in exceptional drought. That's up more than 20% from last week. Much of the remainder of the state is experiencing extreme drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that topsoil moisture in four-fifths of the state is now short to very short. The Drought Monitor finds three-quarters of the 11-state western region that includes Utah is experiencing drought. — Diane Maggipinto

Northern Utah

Construction Company Finds 19th Century Artifacts

A construction company found 19th-century artifacts in Salt Lake City during a job for the Utah Transit Authority. UTA released a statement Thursday, claiming Big D Construction company stumbled upon glass bottles and ceramic dishware at a downtown construction site. Historians with the Utah Division of State History suspect these items were part of a passenger train car in the late 1800s. The artifacts were in such good shape that some of the bottles still had liquor in them. Big D Construction is working on a fuel maintenance center for UTA, replacing an old bus garage to make more room for its growing fleet. — Roddy Nikpour

Utah Cities Score Below National Average On LGBTQ Scorecard

Seven Utah cities scored below the national average for LGBTQ protections and inclusive policies.That’s according to a recently released analysis by the Washington D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, which looks at things like non-discrimination laws and city leaders’ support for LGBTQ equality among other criteria. Of the eight Utah municipalities rated, which included Logan, Provo and Park City — only Salt Lake City scored higher than the national average. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

Utah’s Population Is On The Rise

Utah’s population has continued its steady growth from last July to this year thanks to more people moving here, according to a report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. The Wasatch Front and the Southwest corner of Utah continue to be the fastest growing areas of the state. But migration patterns ebb and flow much more than natural increases like birth rates, and the full impact of the pandemic on migration is yet to be seen, demographer Emily Harris said. Overall, people moving to Utah now account for almost half of the state’s growth as birth rates continue to decline. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

Navajo Hospitals Are At A Tipping Point

Hospitals on the Navajo Nation are reaching capacity as COVID-19 cases there continue to rise. The Nation broke its daily case record twice in the past two weeks. Dr. Loretta Christensen is the chief medical officer of Navajo area Indian Health Services. She implored people to wear masks and stay home during a town hall Thursday on Facebook live. “We assure you we will provide you the best care possible, but if we all don’t stop COVID, we will run out of beds, we will run out of nurses, and we will run out of supplies,” she said. The nation reported 310 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff