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AM News Brief: Vaccination Plans, Brief Delay On Unemployment Extension & Wild Mink COVID Limited

A photo of an American mink in grass.
In November, the state veterinarian reported that nearly 11,000 minks in Utah fur farms had died from the coronavirus.

Tuesday morning, December 29, 2020


Phase 2 Vaccination Plans

Utah announced details of the second phase of its COVID-19 vaccination plan Monday. Starting in mid-February — people 75 and older can be inoculated. Their hospitalization rate is three times greater than the next closest age group. Right now, vaccinations are going to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. In late January, teachers, school staff, and first responders will also be included. The state reported 1,716 new COVID-19 cases and five additional deaths Monday. — Jon Reed

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Brief Delay On COVID-19 Unemployment Extension

The COVID relief bill that the president signed over the weekend will extend unemployment benefits. Kevin Burt with the Utah Department of Workforce Services said that the president’s delay in signing the bill shouldn’t affect most people already on unemployment, and they should continue to file weekly claims as usual. Anyone who had already exhausted their benefits could now be eligible for an 11-week extension, though they might have to wait to get their first check. Burt said the department hopes to back-pay delayed checks retroactively. He also said it might take a few weeks before people receive the extra $300 in federal unemployment benefits that were approved. The state is waiting on guidance from the U.S. Labor Department and for the federal government to release the additional funds. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Farming Future

Farmers are facing a problem: how to feed an ever-growing human population with shrinking supplies of land and water. At least, that’s the argument Utah-based Grōv Technologies is making. The company developed the Olympus Tower Farm, which it describes as the “world’s largest, most advanced indoor vertical farming system for year-round fresh animal feed.” The company said a single tower can match the production of 35 to 50 acres of conventional fields — with only 5% of the water. The technology’s first adopter is Bateman’s Mosida Farms, the biggest dairy producer in the state. Read the full story. — David Fuchs

COVID-19 Wild Mink Spread Isolated

The COVID-19 outbreaks on Utah’s minks farms are potentially close to an end. That’s according to a Utah Department of Agriculture and Food press release published Monday. In it, the department said the virus has not spread from the farmed animals to wild minks, except for one isolated case. The news comes after nearly 11,000 farmed minkshave died of COVID-19 in Utah. — David Fuchs


Votes Against House Measure For Increased Individual Relief Payments

Two of Utah’s Republican Congressional representatives voted against increasing COVID relief payments to U.S. citizens from $600 to $2,000. Despite the president's call for the larger payments, John Curtis and Chris Stewart both opposed the supplemental measure, which passed the U.S. House Monday. Stewart said there had been no effort to offset the spending. And Curtis said he supported more “targeted” relief, like payments to small business owners. The Republican-led Senate is unlikely to support the measure. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

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