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AM News Brief: Rep. Lou Shurtliff Dies, New Year’s Eve Gatherings & Racist Rock Climbing Routes

Rock climber lead climbs a wall near the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.
Patrick Lewis / Flickr Creative Commons
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A recent survey found 91% of rock climbers have come across routes with racist or sexist names. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Thursday morning, December 31, 2020

State

Rep. Lou Shurtliff Passes Away From Pneumonia

Rep. LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff, D-Ogden, died Wednesday, according to her friend and colleague Rep. Patrice Arent, D- Millcreek. Shurtliff had been hospitalized with pneumonia since early December, and according to a statement from her family, did not have COVID-19. She first served in the state Legislature from 1999-2008 and rejoined it in 2019. She had just won her re-election bid about a month before she was hospitalized. Arent tweeted that Shurtliff was “a truly effective legislator who worked so hard to represent her constituents.” Gov. Gary Herbert remembered her as a “wonderful teacher and public servant,” tweeting it was a sad day for anyone who knew or worked with her. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Newborn Screen Program Discovers First Case Of GAMT

Utah’s Department of Health said its newborn screening program helped identify its first baby with GAMT deficiency. It’s a condition that affects the body’s ability to produce creatine which can lead to intellectual disabilities like seizures and autistic like behavior. The health department first started checking for the disease in newborns in 2015. Officials said this is the first case of GAMT deficiency it has identified through screening and without a family history. If caught early, doctors said the condition can be treated with therapy. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

County Officials Warn Against Permitless New Year’s Eve Gatherings

County officials in Utah have warned against hosting large gatherings for New Year's Eve without a permit, which is now required under safety guidelines intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus. FOX13 reported that Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Cannon raised concerns about potential gatherings, especially those being advertised without locations. Cannon said some events don't announce the location until the day before, thinking there is less of a chance of police breaking up the party. Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said all New Year's Eve parties must have valid permits before people can gather while "really adhering to their societal responsibilities to help us get through this pandemic." — Associated Press

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Southern Utah

Utah Portion Of Navajo Nation Begins Vaccinations

Clinics on the Navajo Nation in Utah started vaccinating their employees this week after receiving 850 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Clifford Sagg received his first dose of the vaccine on Saturday. He works for the Utah Navajo Health System, which operates three clinics in San Juan County. He said getting vaccinated was exciting, but also scary — because he suffers from food allergies and was worried he might have a bad reaction. Ultimately, Sagg said he got vaccinated to protect his 650-member community, which has lost around 25 people to the virus. Over 90% of all clinic workers opted to get the vaccine, according to a recent survey, and they will start giving it to vulnerable community members in January. Read the full story.Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Region

Rock Climber Dealing With Racist Names Of Routes

A recent survey found 91% of rock climbers have come across routes with racist or sexist names. In Ten Sleep, Wyoming, those included “Happiness in Slavery” and “Aunt Jemima’s Bisquick Thunderdome.” But amid America’s racial reckoning, the climbing world is having its own awakening. This past summer, developers of the Wyoming wall heeded calls to rename the routes. That’s helped further a conversation about diversity in climbing that advocates say is long overdue. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau