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PM News Brief: Navajo Water, Campus Safety & Holiday Travel Tips

Photo of University if Utah logo.
Brian Albers / KUER
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Reports of rape at the University of Utah rose almost 70% and stalking incidents more than doubled last year, compared to 2018. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, December 22, 2020

State

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah health officials announced 2,302 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Vaccine distribution continues to get underway, as more than 8,500 doses have already been administered. The state has received 25,000 so far. Officials reported 12 more people have died from the disease — four were younger than 65. There are currently 544 people hospitalized due to COVID-19. — Ross Terrell

Utah’s Congressional Delegation Reacts To Federal Relief Package

Utah's Congressional delegation had mixed reactions and votes on the latest COVID-19 relief package. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, and Rep. Ben McAdams, D-UT, both voted to pass the bill. In a statement, McAdams said the legislation wasn’t perfect, but it was sorely needed. Republicans Mike Lee, Chris Stewart and John Curtis all voted against it. Lee and Curtis both cited the length of the bill as their reason why. It came in at more than 5,000 pages, which they said they didn’t have time to review. Stewart said on Twitter he couldn’t support such a large spending bill with the U.S. debt exceeding $27 trillion. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-UT, who is retiring at the end of this session, was absent from the vote. President Trump is expected to sign the bill in the near future. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

VA Medical Center Receives First Vaccine Shipment

The VA Medical Center in Salt Lake City got its first shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday. The 2,200 doses will go first to frontline health care workers, but high-risk veterans are still about a month away from receiving their first doses. The VA identified about 6,000 veterans in long term care facilities who will get it first, along with veterans 75-years-old or older and with a chronic health condition. Like the general public, a spokesperson said the remaining 60,000 veterans who receive care from the VA can expect to get the vaccine by early summer. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Traveling For The Holiday? Be COVID-19 Cautious

If you’re hosting people for the holidays, Salt Lake County health officials are urging people to take precautions. The county said people visiting others should limit their COVID-19 exposure risk and get tested two to three days before traveling. After arriving, people should isolate in a hotel or separate part of the house and then get tested three to five days after traveling. Still, county officials said the best way to stay safe this Christmas is by spending the holiday only with people in your immediate household. — Ross Terrell

Reports Of Rape And Stalking Up At University Of Utah

Reports of rape at the University of Utah rose almost 70% and stalking incidents more than doubled last year, compared to 2018. That’s according to a campus safety report released Tuesday by the school. Rebecca Hardenbrook with the student group UnsafeU said she would like to see more information around stalking to better understand the issue. Chris Nelson, a spokesperson for the U, said it’s difficult to know how the number of reported incidents compares to actual cases because rape and stalking tend to be underreported, but they hope the increase is due to more resources being available to victims. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

Utah Navajo Water Rights Settlement Act Clears Congress

Congress passed the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act Monday as part of a federal coronavirus relief package. Proponents of the settlement, like Mark Maryboy, a former San Juan County commissioner, said it could change lives. The settlement gives the Navajo Nation the right to use water from the Colorado River. According to the Navajo Nation president’s office, over 40% of Utah Navajo residents live without running water. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger

Southern Utah Locals Are Defending Dixie

Some institutions in southern Utah are moving away from the name Dixie. But there are efforts by some locals to keep the name in place. Troy Blanchard is one of the leaders of the Defending Southwestern Utah Heritage Coalition, and their motto is “stand up for Dixie.” He said he knows it will be an uphill battle to keep the name of the university, but he has hope southern Utah legislators will listen to their constituents. St. George resident Ilene Hacker has started a GoFundMe campaign raising money to appeal to legislators. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

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