Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

AM News Brief: Avalanche Risk, Utah Jazz Tip Off & Phil Lyman Pardoned

Judy Fahys KUER
President Donald Trump has pardoned Rep. Phil Lyman, R- Blanding. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, December 23, 2020


New Bill Aims At More Efficient Spending For Homeless Healthcare

Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, has unveiled a bill that would boost funding for facilities that provide medical care for people experiencing homelessness after they leave the hospital. The money would come in the form of federal Medicaid funding and go to “residential medical respite care” facilities that have nurses on staff to help patients recover. He says the idea is to help people experiencing homelessness get well so they don’t end up immediately back in the hospital. Dunnigan said it’ll cost the state about $200,000 a year. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Utah Hoping To For Seamless Transition With New Unemployment Benefits

The new federal coronavirus relief package extended the time people can receive unemployment benefits for 11 more weeks. It also added $300 to unemployment checks starting the last week of December. Kevin Burt, director of the state’s unemployment program, said there could be some delays getting the money out. The president still needs to sign the bill, and the U.S. labor department needs to provide guidance on how to distribute the funds. But he said the department is working now to minimize interruptions. While the state’s economy has rebounded better than others, there are still about 40,000 Utahns filing for unemployment right now. Benefits for about a quarter of them are set to expire this week. — Jon Reed

Rates Of Flu Down In The State Of Utah

Utah health leaders say the state is in the lowest category of reported flu cases and that reflects much of the country. Gov. Gary Herbert made a push for residents to get the flu vaccine early in the season; he told residents that getting vaccinated greatly reduces the risk of becoming sick and saves much-needed hospital space for those with COVID-19 and other critical illnesses. A map of the U.S. shows the entire country has low to moderate flu activity, with the exception of Oklahoma. — Associated Press

Northern Utah

Utah Jazz Season Tips Off Wednesday Night

The Utah Jazz tip off their 2020-21 season Wednesday night in Portland. This season will be an attempt for the team to return to normalcy. On March 11, Jazz player Rudy Gobert became the first in the NBA to test positive for COVID-19, causing the league to postpone the rest of its season. About two months later, legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan died. It wouldn’t be until July that the team would play again — but without fans in Orlando, overshadowed by social justice protests, a player strike and a major blown lead in the playoffs. Then in October, longtime owner Gail Miller announced she had sold the team. As the new season gets underway, the Jazz will allow just 1,500 fans into the arena due to COVID-19 protocols. Their first home game is Saturday night. — Ross Terrell

Wyoming Inmate Dies In Salt Lake Hospital

A Wyoming prison inmate died while being treated at LDS hospital in Salt Lake City. The Wyoming Department of Corrections said 51-year-old Steven Michael Newport died Tuesday at the Intermountain Healthcare facility. The department said it can't release details because health information is protected. An autopsy will be conducted per department policy. Newport was sentenced in 2017 to serve five to seven years in prison for the unlawful manufacture or delivery of drugs in northeastern Wyoming. — Associated Press

Southern Utah

Phil Lyman Pardoned By President Trump

President Donald Trump has pardoned Rep. Phil Lyman, R- Blanding. Lyman was convicted in 2015 for illegally driving off-road vehicles on public lands, as a protest of the closure of a southern Utah canyon to ATVs. A White House statement said “Mr. Lyman is known to be a man of integrity and character who was serving as a county commissioner in Utah when he was subjected to selective prosecution.” Lyman spent 10 days in jail and paid nearly $96,000 in restitution. It also said the move is supported by Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, and former Republican member of Congress Jason Chaffetz. — Sonja Hutson


Avalanche Risk High In The Mountain West

Four people from the region died in avalanche related incidents last weekend. Many states in the West are experiencing an early dry snow season, making conditions extremely dangerous right now. On average 24 people die in the U.S. each year in avalanches — most of those deaths in the Mountain West. Drew Hardesty, with the Utah Avalanche Center, said it's critical for those going out to know what they’re doing. At the bare minimum, people should learn how to operate rescue equipment like a shovel, a beacon and an avalanche airbag. He also recommended not going alone. — Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau

Moderna Vaccine Arrives On Navajo Nation

The Navajo Department of Health said the first doses of the recently-approved Moderna vaccine have arrived on the reservation. They'll be distributed by Indian Health Service. Officials reported Tuesday 151 new COVID-19 cases and seven additional deaths. The Navajo Nation is in a three-week lockdown that mandates all residents stay home except for emergencies, shopping for necessary items, or traveling to an essential job. — Associated Press

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.