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PM News Brief: Declining Marriage Rates, Fewer COVID-19 Cases & Lower Solar Rates

A photo of solar panels.
Sander van Dijk
/
Flickr
Solar advocates are appealing a decision the Utah Public Service Commission made last month. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, December 7, 2020

State

Utah’s Marriage Rate On The Decline

Over the last decade, Utah’s marriage rate dropped from third highest in the country to fifth. From 2009 to 2019, six fewer women for every 1,000 over the age of 15 married. That’s according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2009, the rate in Utah was about 27 women per 1,000 but that fell to nearly 21 last year. The state’s divorce rate remained relatively unchanged over that same time period. Both Utah’s marriage and divorce rates are higher than the national average. — Ross Terrell

COVID-19 Update

Utah health officials reported 2,231 new cases of COVID-19 Monday — the state’s lowest total since Nov. 30. Despite the decrease in the number of new cases, Utah’s positivity rate continues to rise and is now slightly above 27%. That’s an increase of nearly six percentage points from a week ago. Ten more Utahns have died from COVID-19 and all of them were over the age of 65. — Ross Terrell

Solar Advocates Push Back On Rate Change

Solar advocates are appealing a decision the Utah Public Service Commission made last month. The state agency lowered the price that rooftop solar owners get for generating power and sending it back to the grid from around 9 cents to under 6 cents. Utah Clean Energy filed its appeal Friday, arguing the commission should reconsider the new rate and take into account wider benefits that solar provides — like its impacts on the environment. The commission is expected to respond in the next few weeks. — Jon Reed

Trump Plans Could Put The Greater Sage Grouse At Risk

President Trump’s administration is amending its public lands management plan and opening 51 million acres to oil, gas and mineral leasing. These lands are also the habitat of the iconic bird species, the greater sage grouse. Environmental groups are criticizing these rollbacks on protections, calling them "dangerous" and against science. Still, some scientists who study sage grouse conservation stand behind these changes, arguing that it's a more nuanced issue. — Associated Press and Roddy Nikpour

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Students Ask For In Person Learning To Resume

About 100 students and parents held a rally outside East High School in Salt Lake City Monday afternoon asking the district to bring back in-person class. Last month, the school board voted to bring back kindergarten through 6th grade early next year, but haven’t decided when to allow 7th grade and above back into schools. Students at the rally said their grades have been slipping because of online learning. The district did not respond to a request for comment on the rally. Interim Superintendent Larry Madden has said in the past he wants to bring back students as soon as possible, but only when it's safe. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Region/Nation

Usage Of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps Is Low Across The Country

The COVID-19 contact tracing software developed by Apple and Google is up and running, but according to analysis by the Associated Press, fewer than half of U.S. states have used it to create a smartphone app, and most people living in those states aren’t putting the app to use. Colorado has been the most successful in our region, with 20% of the population having downloaded it. But in Wyoming and Nevada, less than 3% of the population has. Jessica Vitak, a professor of information studies at the University of Maryland, said when it comes to privacy, the risks are minimal and outweighed by the benefits of increased contact tracing. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Utah’s Congressional Delegation Raising Money For Georgia Senate Races

Almost all of Utah’s Republican congressional delegation is holding a virtual fundraiser Monday night for two Senate races in Georgia. Weber State University political scientist Leah Murray said some Utahns are upset that their elected officials are spending time bringing money to another state’s contest, but that’s business as usual. "The only reason there’s focus on it is because there’s nothing else to see," Murray said. "So we all kind of are getting a lesson in how this works." In this year’s competitive election for Utah’s fourth congressional district, for example, national groups poured millions of dollars into the race. — Sonja Hutson

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