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PM News Brief: Digital Park Passes, St. George Unity Event & Small Business Help

A photo of Snow Canyon State Park.
Carl Berger Sr
/
Flickr
Visitors to some Utah state parks will soon be able to buy day passes online. The mobile “Parks Pass” site will have trail maps and more information about the parks. Snow Canyon State Park will be one of the first to roll the passes out. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, January 8, 2021

State

Gov. Spencer Cox Lays Out Aggressive COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

Gov. Spencer Cox has an aggressive new plan to speed up COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Providers must administer their doses within a week of receiving them or they'll be redistributed. Local health departments will now be in charge of the distribution and eligible residents will sign up with them to get vaccinated. Cox also promised that all long-term care facilities will be vaccinated by Jan. 23, and all teachers and people over 70 who want it by the end of February will get it. Read the full story. Sonja Hutson

Paycheck Protection Program Opening Back Up To Utah Businesses

The Paycheck Protection Program will once again be available to Utah businesses starting Monday. The program loans money to small businesses to keep workers on their payrolls. It’s funded by the federal CARES Act. Small businesses must work with banks and other lenders to submit their applications. New borrowers and some repeat borrowers will be eligible. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Crosses 300,000 COVID-19 Case Count

Utah crossed a new COVID-19 threshold Friday, as more than 300,000 Utahns have now tested positive for the virus since the start of the pandemic last March. The week-long positivity rate remains at a record-high level of 32.7%. Since the start of the week, health officials reported nearly 60 more people died from COVID-19. But there is some good news. Health departments around the state are now administering the second dose of the vaccine. About 2,000 Utahns are now fully vaccinated against the virus. — David Fuchs

State Parks To Begin Offering Digital Pass

Visitors to some Utah state parks will soon be able to buy day passes online. The mobile “Parks Pass” site will have trail maps and more information about the parks. It will also show how full they are in real-time. Snow Canyon, Sand Hollow, Quail Creek and Gunlock State Parks will be the first to roll it out in the next few months. Southern Utah University and Dixie State University helped Utah’s Division of Parks and Recreation create the technology. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Looking To Vaccinate General Public Soon

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announced Friday the general public could start getting COVID-19 vaccines in March. Healthcare workers and residents of long term facilities have been the first groups to get vaccinated. Dr. Audrey Stevenson is with the Salt Lake County Health Department and she said school staff will be eligible starting next week. But it could take a while for all the teachers to receive it due to supply limits. The state’s rollout has been slow. But Stevenson said manufacturers are increasing production and should be able to get more out soon. — Ivana Martinez

Utah Senate President Calls Out Salt Lake City School District

Utah lawmakers are demanding the Salt Lake City School District reopen for in person classes. Senate president Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said in a statement, every district except one has in-person learning options and it is time for Salt Lake City to “step up.” The district voted this week to reopen schools when all employees are vaccinated. But it did not set a specific date. Teachers and school staff are expected to start receiving doses Monday. But it may take several weeks until everyone receives it. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Unity Event Planned In St. George Following Trying Week

A unity event is planned in St. George for Friday evening. It’s for community members to come together and process the last week, like the riots in Washington D.C. from pro-Trump extremists and protests at the state capitol building. That’s according to organizer Sydni Makemo who is the southern Utah outreach coordinator for ACLU of Utah. She said the mob storming the capitol in D.C. left her stunned, even though it happened thousands of miles away. Makemo said it’s not political and open to anyone. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Biden’s Campaign Promises Could Negatively Affect Mountain West Region

President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign promise to ban new oil and gas permitting on public lands would have negative repercussions in the Mountain West. That’s according to a new study from the Wyoming Energy Authority. The energy advocacy group said the plan would cut $44 billion of economic activity and 72,000 jobs by the end of Biden’s first term. Still critics said the boom and bust nature of the oil and gas industry makes that dire assessment unreliable. — Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau