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AM News Brief: Salt Lake City Cash Cards, Small Rural Earthquake & Prison Vaccinations

Photo of City and County Building
Brian Albers / KUER
Salt Lake City is giving out $500 cash cards to residents who did not receive a federal coronavirus stimulus check earlier this year. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, December 21, 2020

State

Utah Reports More Than 4,000 COVID-19 Cases Over The Weekend

Utah health officials reported 4,402 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. For the past week, the positivity rate is 22.8%. That’s about 2% lower than a week ago. As of Sunday, more than 23,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been shipped to Utah. And around 3,600 have been given out. Fifteen Utahns died from COVID-19 over the weekend. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Helping Some Residents With Cash Cards

Salt Lake City is giving out $500 cash cards to residents who did not receive a federal coronavirus stimulus check earlier this year. Mayor Erin Mendenhall said through a combination of donations and CARES Act money, the city has enough for 2,600 city residents. "We'd love to do more," she said. "When we think about the rental costs of housing here in the city, $500 really doesn't go very far, and that seems to be the primary need of our residents right now who are falling between the cracks." — Sonja Hutson

Troubled Teen Industry Dealing With COVID-19 Outbreak

There have now been 10 cases of COVID-19 at Elevations RTC, a spokesperson for the youth residential treatment facility confirmed Friday. That number comes roughly two weeks after the Northern Utah facility reported its first cases of the virus. Read the full story. — David Fuchs

Southern Utah

Small Earthquake On Colorado-Utah Border

A small earthquake rocked a rural area Saturday near the Colorado-Utah border. The University of Utah Seismograph Stations reported the magnitude 4.3 temblor was felt at 7:11 p.m. Its epicenter was 3.5 miles southwest of Bedrock, Colorado, and 18 miles east of La Sal, Utah. People in Bedrock and Moab reported feeling the quake. The University of Utah Seismograph Stations said the earthquake happened in an area of frequent small, shallow earthquake activity triggered by underground saltwater injection. — Associated Press

Navajo Smokestacks Demolished

It was smokestack lightning on Utah’s southern border as three towering concrete stacks were imploded. They were among the last visual reminders of the Navajo Generating Station in Page, Arizona. People lined roadways and gathered in parking lots on Friday to watch the stacks tumble down at the shuttered power plant. The 775-foot structures loomed over the region replete with tourist attractions such as Lake Powell. The plant shut down last year as natural gas became a cheaper alternative for energy. The generating station had provided steady employment and revenue for the Navajo Nation, while environmentalists fought to close it because of reliance on fossil fuel, water use and pollution. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Incarcerated People Not A Priority For COVID-19 Vaccines

Some of the largest and most deadly COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred in prisons across the U.S. But incarcerated people are not included in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for the first phase of vaccine distribution. Most states in the Mountain West region are following that guidance. But advocates argue incarcerated people are among the most vulnerable populations, especially since social distancing just isn’t possible in prisons. Utah’s distribution plan lists correctional workers and prison inmates in phase two.

Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

Navajo Nation Weekend COVID-19 Update

On the Navajo Nation, the Department of Health reported a weekend total of 392 cases of COVID-19 and four deaths. Indian Health Service distributed the initial shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, which was given to frontline health care workers and those in long-term care facilities, except people living on the Utah portion of the reservation. Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the Utah Navajo Health System expected to receive its share of that vaccine Monday. Nez also asked residents to celebrate the holidays only with those living in the same house. — Diane Maggipinto