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PM News Brief: Veteran Scam Warning, Salt Lake City School & Holiday Travel

A photo of an emblem of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Renee Bright
/
KUER
Utah’s state officials are warning Veterans about a new scam targeting them and their families. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, December 21, 2020

State

Dark Skies Ripe For Jupiter And Saturn Viewing

Monday marked a historic event in the cosmos — the first time in 800 years that Saturn and Jupiter aligned in the night sky. And for this unique moment in the universe, Utahns may have a better view than most due to its dark skies. Any Utahn with a clear view of the horizon should be able to take advantage of the state’s skies to watch the event, according to Rodger Fry, director of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society’s observatory at Stansbury Park. All you have to do is look to the southwest after sunset — between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. — roughly 25 degrees above the horizon. Read the full story.David Fuchs

V.A. Warns Veterans About New Scams

Utah’s state officials are warning Veterans about a new scam targeting them and their families. The state’s department of veterans and military affairs says scammers are posing as government employees, calling people by name and asking them for donations or offering benefits in exchange for personal financial information. The department said no government agency would ask for donations in their official capacity and benefits are not based on information given over the phone. — Ross Terrell

Lowest COVID-19 Case Count Of December

Utah health officials reported 1,819 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, the state’s lowest single day total since Nov. 29. Officials also announced more than 6,500 doses of the vaccine have been administered, so far Utah has received 25,000 doses. Six more people have died from COVID-19. One Salt Lake County man was younger than 45-years-old, nearly 1,200 Utahns have lost their lives from the disease. — Ross Terrell

AAA Utah Expects Drop In Holiday Travel

Typically, the week of Christmas is one of the heaviest traveled all year. But with the pandemic still raging, AAA Utah said it expects a significant drop in 2020 holiday travel compared to years past. Between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3, the organization said it expects 34 million fewer travelers this year — about a 30% drop. And the vast majority of those who do travel — 96% — will be doing it by car. The company encouraged those who are traveling to observe all COVID-19 safety protocols, like reducing nonessential activities before traveling and getting tested. — Caroline Ballard

Gov.-elect Spencer Cox Names More Appointments

Gov.-elect Spencer Cox announced another round of appointments to his administration Monday. Nubia Peña, the current Department of Multicultural Affairs director, will also serve as Cox’s senior advisor on Equity and Opportunity starting in January. St. George mayor Jon Pike will resign to accept a post as commissioner of the Utah Insurance Department. Cox, who’s in the final days as lieutenant governor, also named his chief of staff Kirsten Rappleye to be the director of First Lady Initiatives for incoming First Lady Abby Cox. Cox and other state leaders will be formally sworn in on Jan. 4. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Schools Reach Deal To Get Bonus

The Salt Lake City School District and Utah Legislative leaders have struck a deal to include their staff in a statewide teacher bonus, by bringing students back to the classroom. The state Legislature approved a $1,500 bonus for teachers last week — but only in districts that offered in-person learning before Jan. 19, leaving out Salt Lake City schools. The School District’s interim superintendent said now he’s planning to ask the school board to offer in-person learning for 7th through 12th graders in early February. The board previously approved a plan to bring back other grades. House Speaker Brad Wilson, who introduced the provision that excluded the district from those bonuses, said if the new timeline is approved, Salt Lake City teachers will get the bonus. — Sonja Hutson

Region/Nation

Working Remotely? Pay Cuts Coming From Large Companies

Companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Redfin have announced they are cutting pay for employees who choose to work remotely in places where life is cheaper. Local economists said that could play out in a couple ways. On one hand, these companies might be signaling they don’t believe remote working is a viable long-term option. There is conflicting research on whether it’s more productive than in-person work. But conversely, it might backfire and other companies will hire these employees for better pay. Meaning all these remote workers in our region might be here to stay. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau