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AM News Brief: Healthcare Merger Suspended, New Emergency Homeless Shelter & Royals Leaving Utah

Photo of the stadium
Wikimedia Commons
Utah’s National Women's Soccer League is leaving the state. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, December 7, 2020

State

More Than 90% Of Utah’s ICU Beds Full

Over the weekend Utah reported more than 6,200 people contracted COVID-19 and 14 people died. For the past week, the rate of positive tests is close to 27%. That’s well above the 5% rate the Department of Health says shows a flattening of the curve. Nearly 600 people are also in the hospital with COVID-19, and the state’s ICU beds are over 90% full. — Jon Reed

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

State Executive Brings Rural Voice To Administration

Republican Gov.-elect Spencer Cox announced a new position for his incoming administration last week — senior advisor of rural affairs. Cox appointed Stephen Lisonbee, an assistant vice president at Southern Utah University, to the role. Cox campaigned on his farmer background, and Lisonbee said this new position shows he’s serious about giving rural Utah a seat at the table. Lisonbee said one of his priorities is promoting job and economic growth in smaller towns. Beaver County Commissioner Tammy Pearson said she’s glad there will be someone working directly with the governor who is focused on representing her community and others like hers. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Sanford Health And Intermountain Healthcare Merger Suspended

A planned merger between Intermountain Healthcare and the South Dakota-based Sanford Health has been called off. The deal would have created one of the largest healthcare systems in the country. In a press release, the company said the decision came after a leadership change and the need to focus on other priorities. Sanford’s CEO resigned last week following a questionable remark he made about not needing to wear a mask. — Jon Reed

Governor’s Inauguration To Take Place In Southern Utah

Utah is getting ready to swear in its newest elected officials next month. Along with Gov.-elect Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov.-elect Deidre Henderson — incumbents Treasurer David Damschen, Auditor John Dougall and Attorney General Sean Reyes will publicly take their oaths of office Jan. 4 at a ceremony in Ivins near St. George. The governor’s office said the ceremony will be held in an outdoor venue and guests will be physically distanced. — Jon Reed

Keeping In Touch With Older Adults

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, the mental health challenges many are facing might only be getting worse. Doctors and health experts continue to advise people not to visit anyone outside of their immediate household, but that’s especially true for older adults since they are some of the most vulnerable to the disease. Kathie Supiano directs the grief support center Caring Connections at the University of Utah’s College of Nursing. She said people should talk to older adults about how they would like to stay in touch. She also recommended increasing the number and variety of ways people reach out … like writing a letter or cooking a meal over video chat. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

COVID-19 Hits Davis County Youth Residential Treatment Center

Elevations RTC, a youth residential treatment center in Davis County, alerted parents to its first COVID-19 cases among students Friday. Elevations shared the information with parents on a private site the facility uses to communicate with families, and screenshots of that message were shared with KUER. Utah’s Office of Licensing, the primary regulator of private youth treatment facilities in the state, confirmed Elevations residents had recently tested positive for COVID-19. It could not provide an exact number of cases, however, citing privacy concerns. Read the full story. — David Fuchs

New Winter Homeless Shelter Aims To Limit Virus Spread

The Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness announced it will open a new emergency shelter in Millcreek on Dec. 10. The group selected a former senior living facility to provide 60 to 75 beds for unsheltered people this winter. The facility has separate rooms, unlike a congregate shelter, to limit the spread of COVID-19. The organization is still looking for an additional facility for the winter after one they planned to open in Midvale fell through. — Emily Means

Royals Leaving Utah

Utah’s National Women's Soccer League is leaving the state. Utah Soccer announced Monday morning that the Royals are moving to Kansas City in time to kick off the 2021 season. Officials said the agreement will allow the Utah Royals to be re-established with the same name at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2023 under new ownership. No one has yet stepped up to take over the franchise after Dell Loy Hansen was ousted after reports of his alleged racist behavior. Hansen bought the rights to FC Kansas City when the team folded in 2017. The Utah Royals began play the following year in Sandy. — Diane Maggipinto