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AM News Brief: Tax Revenue, Utah Infrastructure & Avalanche Watch

Traffic on Utah highway.
Istock.com / wsfurlan
Utah received a C+ for the current state of its infrastructure, which includes everything from bridges and roads, to drinking water and hazardous waste. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, December 17, 2020

State

State Legislature Predicts Tax Revenue Increase

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Utah’s tax revenue will increase 1.5% during this fiscal year, and 6.5% next year, according to projections released Wednesday by the State Legislature, Tax Commission and the governor’s office. The Legislature’s Chief Economist Andrea Wilko said federal stimulus payments have helped Utah weather this economic storm caused by the pandemic. The full Legislature reconvenes Jan. 19 and plans to pass a budget based on the new revenue projections. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Receives A C+ For The State Of Its Infrastructure

Utah received a C+ for the current state of its infrastructure, which includes everything from bridges and roads, to drinking water and hazardous waste. The grade comes from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The group gave Utah the same score in 2015. But Craig Friant with ASCE said the state still had one of the highest scores in the nation. The state’s lowest scores came on levees and canals. While its highest grades were on bridges, roads and transit. The full report will be released in January. — Ross Terrell

Utah Forecasters Issue Avalanche Watch

The Utah Avalanche Forecast Center has issued a backcountry avalanche watch, in place now until 6 a.m. Friday. The affected area encompasses the mountains of Northern and Central Utah that includes the Wasatch Range, the Bear River Range, western Uintas and the Manti-Skyline Plateau. Forecasters said the avalanche danger likely will rise to 'high' over the next few days. — Diane Maggipinto

Regional

COVID-19 Case Update Across The Mountain West

More than 10,500 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the Mountain West region Wednesday. Additionally, there were 241 new deaths, and more than 5,926 residents in our region remain hospitalized with the virus. A study just published in the journal Nature Neuroscience strongly suggests that the COVID-19 virus can enter the brain and could lead to so-called “COVID dementia” and brain fog. In Utah, health officials reported 2,928 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday and 19 more people died from the virus — 11 of them were from Salt Lake County. — Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau

Bureau of Land Management Rushing To Fill Jobs

The Bureau of Land Management is scurrying to fill top posts at its new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo., and at state offices across the West. Positions range from a district manager in Cedar City to a pair of division chiefs for wildlife conservation, aquatics and environmental protection in Salt Lake City. That's according to reporting from E & E News. Some current and former Interior Department officials said it appears like the scramble is meant to complicate another relocation. The sources said it's expected President-elect Joe Biden's administration will relocate the new headquarters and dozens of other positions that were moved to the West back to Washington D.C. — Diane Maggipinto

Navajo Nation COVID-19 Update

On Wednesday, Navajo Nation health officials reported 160 new COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive day and four more related deaths. The tribe now has reported 20,095 coronavirus cases resulting in 731 deaths since the pandemic began. Health officials said more than 186,000 people on the reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have been tested and nearly 11,000 have recovered from COVID-19. Navajo Department of Health officials say 77 communities on the reservation still have uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. The Navajo Nation has extended its stay-at-home order though Dec. 28 in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. — Diane Maggipinto