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AM News Brief: Holiday Testing Drop, International Tourism Hit & U’s Star Running Back Dies At 19

Photo of the University of Utah football stadium
Brian Albers
/
KUER
University of Utah officials announced that star freshman running back Ty Jordan died over the weekend.

Monday morning, December 28, 2020

State

Holiday Testing Drop

Over the three-day weekend, Utah reported nearly 4,300 new cases of COVID-19. That number reflects less than 1,000 cases reported on both Saturday and Sunday. Utah hasn’t had a daily case number that low since mid-October, but many testing locations were closed on Christmas Day. There was a more-than 70% drop in the number of tests from Thursday to Saturday, which helps explain the decline in cases. The State Department of Health said it may take seven to 10 days to get a clear sense of the numbers following the holiday. The percent of positive tests though has been around 24% for the past week. The state also reported 10 more deaths, including three people between the ages of 45 and 64. — Elaine Clark

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Police Reform In Utah’s Legislative Session

This summer’s movement against police brutality and racial injustice has spurred some Utah lawmakers to action. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, plans to propose two bills that deal with police reform. She said officers are already required to do 40 hours of training a year, so one of her bills would require 16 of those be focused on crisis intervention and de-escalation. The other bill would mandate law enforcement agencies keep track of their use of force through a federal database. Read the full story. — Emily Means

International Tourism Hit

There's been a decline in out-of-country visitors this year, and it's negatively affected Utah’s tourism industry. The St. George Spectrum reported international tourism to the Salt Lake City Airport is down by 86% from spring to fall. According to a tourism analyst from the University of Utah, international travelers make up about a quarter of all visitors to national parks. They also tend to stay longer and spend more money compared to other visitors. For example, Ruby’s Inn is a hotel next to Bryce Canyon National Park. The pandemic has translated to a 46% loss in revenue for that business. — St. George Spectrum via Associated Press

Northern Utah

U’s Star Running Back Dies At 19

University of Utah officials announced that star freshman running back Ty Jordan died over the weekend. He was 19 years old. Medical records show that Jordan died on Christmas night after accidentally shooting himself while home in Texas. The news of his death came just one day after he was named Pac-12’s newcomer of the year. In a statement, Utah Football Coach Kyle Whittingham said Jordan made a “huge impact” on the football program and that the team was devastated by their loss. — Emily Means / Associated Press

Region/Nation

Bracing For Dry 2021

Dry conditions continue to plague the Colorado River basin, which provides water to about 40 million people in the Western U.S. A lack of precipitation from April to October made it one of the region’s driest six-month periods on record. Hydrologist Cody Moser with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center says an average amount of snow this winter won’t be enough to provide significant drought relief. Sixty-five percent of the watershed is in exceptional drought. Most major rivers in the basin are projected to flow well below normal levels next year due to extremely low soil moisture. Read the full story. — Luke Runyon, KUNC