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PM News Brief: COVID-19 Deaths, Fremont Island & Nationstar Settlement

A photo of Fremont Island.
Courtesy of The Nature Conservancy
The state of Utah will now manage the Great Salt Lake’s Fremont Island as part of an agreement with The Nature Conservancy. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, December 8, 2020


23 Utahns Die From COVID-19 As State Nears 1,000 Deaths

Utah’s Department of Health reported 23 more people have died due to COVID-19. Seven of them were long term care facility residents and two were younger than 45. The state’s positivity rate has also been creeping up over the past week and is now at 27%. The department reported 2,333 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and 579 people are currently hospitalized. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Reaches Settlement With Mortgage Company Nationstar

Utah state officials announced a settlement Tuesday with the mortgage company Nationstar. The multiyear investigation started as a result of state and federal violations like charging prohibited fees, missed tax payments and wrongful foreclosures. Officials said the settlement affects 556 Utah loans and totals more than $657,000. The Nationstar investigation involved upwards of 115,000 consumers across the country. — Ross Terrell

Renters Facing Real Threat Of Eviction As Year End Draws Nigh

As the end of the year approaches, so does the end of a nationwide eviction moratorium. The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for not paying rent. It’s meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of people in crowded shelters or on the street and is set to expire Dec. 31. That could spell trouble for some Utah renters. According to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau housing data by the website “Advisor Smith,” about 11% of renters in the state are at risk of eviction over the next couple of months. And NPR reported a growing number of people across the country are using credit cards to pay rent. Meanwhile, Congress is still discussing whether it will pass a new coronavirus relief package. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Census Response Rate Outpaces State And Country

A higher percentage of Salt Lake County residents participated in the census this year than across Utah and the country. Response rates were up almost everywhere in the county, but the west side of the valley still trailed the wealthier east side. “I don't think the census gets talked about as a social justice issue,” said Marti Woolford, who headed up the county’s census outreach efforts. She said “participating in the census can be a direct action to improving our communities.” Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Utah To Manage Great Salt Lake’s Fremont Island

The state of Utah will now manage the Great Salt Lake’s Fremont Island as part of an agreement with The Nature Conservancy. The remote island used to be privately owned before an anonymous person bought it in September and gave it to the conservation group. Now, it will be open to the public for non-motorized use, said Jason Curry, a public information officer with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. As part of the agreement, limited recreational facilities may be built, but fires, camping and hunting will not be allowed on the island. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Southern Utah

Dixie Regional Medical Center Reaches Full Capacity

Dixie Regional Medical Center reached 100% of its hospital capacity late last week and elective surgeries are on hold for the time being. It marked the first time since the start of the pandemic that the hospital has exceeded its number of licensed beds, according to medical director Patrick Carroll. He said the decision to resume elective surgeries is being evaluated on a day to day basis. There have been more than 14,000 COVID-19 cases reported in Southwest Utah and 100 people have died. — Lexi Peery, St. George


DACA Fully Restored And New Applicants Want In

On the heels of a federal judge’s ruling to fully restore DACA, advocates in the Mountain West region are fielding a lot of calls from potential new applicants. Since 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration hasn’t accepted new applications — even after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s attempt to end DACA in June. But this ruling changes that. More than 44,000 “Dreamers” live in our region. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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