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PM News Brief: COVID-19 Vaccine Scams, Inauguration Day & Certifying Presidential Election

A photo of the inauguration ceremony in Washington County.
Lexi Peery
/
KUER
Against a southern Utah backdrop of red rock and blue skies Monday, the state’s newly elected governor, Spencer Cox took the oath of office. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, January 4, 2021

State

Utah’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate Rises Past 30%

Utah’s week-long COVID-19 positivity rate continues to rise and is now at nearly 31%. A week ago, it was just 24%. Health officials reported 2,160 new COVID-19 cases Monday and four more Utahns have died from the disease. The state’s department of health will also expand free rapid antigen testing. Officials announced more than 20 new test sites across the state. So far, about 1.75 million people in Utah have been tested for COVID-19. — Ross Terrell

Rep. Chris Stewart To Vote Against Certifying Presidential Election Results

Utah’s all-Republican Congressional delegation is split on whether to certify the results of the presidential election this week. Rep. Chris Stewart, R- UT, said he will vote against certification. In a tweet, he said he still had questions about voting irregularities and ballot integrity, though there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election. But Rep. John Curtis, R-UT, tweeted people should be disappointed in the efforts to pressure Georgia election officials to come up with more votes for President Donald Trump. Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, and the state’s two newest Reps. Blake Moore, R-UT, and Burgess Owens, R-UT, have not weighed in publicly, though Fox News has reported Owens will back the attempt not to certify. — Caroline Ballard

FBI Warns Against COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning people to be on the lookout for scams related to getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Potential signs of fraudulent activity include having to pay money or put down a deposit to get a vaccine, advertising that comes through social media, or being contacted directly and asked for your personal information. Officials recommend consulting with your doctor, checking the state health department’s website or the Food and Drug Administration’s website for the most accurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. — Caroline Ballard

Spencer Cox Signs Executive Order Hours After Being Sworn In

Just hours after being inaugurated as governor, Spencer Cox signed his first executive order. In it, he ordered state agencies that create rules for occupation and professional licenses to review those regulations. The idea is to identify which rules are unnecessary and could be repealed, “while still protecting the health, safety and well-being of Utah residents.” The reports are due by the end of June. — Sonja Hutson

Southern Utah

Gov. Spencer Cox Takes Oath Of Office In Southern Utah

Against a southern Utah backdrop of red rock and blue skies Monday, the state’s newly elected governor, Spencer Cox took the oath of office. In his first speech as governor, Cox told the stories of two Utahns from more than a hundred years ago who viewed Washington County very differently. One saw it as a wasteland with no resources, and the other saw it as bursting with opportunities. Cox urged Utahns to view this as a time of opportunity, and to mend the state’s deepening political divide. Holding the inauguration in southern Utah was symbolic of Cox’s commitment to rural Utah. Several other statewide officials were also sworn in at today’s ceremony. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson and Lexi Peery, St. George

Northern Utah

Jenny Wilson Sworn In For First Full Term As Salt Lake County Mayor

Democrat Jenny Wilson took the oath of office Monday for her first full term as Salt Lake County mayor. During a virtual ceremony, Wilson said last year was challenging for Salt Lake County, but she has high hopes for 2021. She said this “is the year we will return to health, vitality and a level of normalcy in our community.” Wilson said the wellbeing of county residents, as well as economic recovery, are her guiding priorities this year. She also mentioned air quality, housing and homelessness as issues the county will continue to address. Wilson said she was excited about Utah’s new governor, saying the change in leadership will provide a new opportunity for Salt Lake County and the rest of the state. Three council members — Laurie Stringham, David Alvord and Dea Theodore — were also sworn in Monday, along with other county elected officials. — Emily Means

Region/Nation

Newly Elected Colorado Representative To Carry Gun On Capitol Hill

A newly-elected congresswoman from Colorado said she’ll carry a handgun on Capitol Hill. In a video released Sunday, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-CO, said Washington D.C. is a violent city and she wants to protect herself. So the congresswoman plans to carry a Glock handgun holstered around her waist. A 1967 rule exempts members of Congress from firearm bans on Capitol Hill. But they do have to leave it behind when they go into chambers or other nearby areas. Some House Democrats wrote a letter recently asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to repeal that rule but they were unsuccessful. More than 80 House Republicans say they support allowing lawmakers to carry guns. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau