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PM News Brief: Utah’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate, Pandemic Homelessness & Healthcare Worker Stress

A photo of a homeless encampment.
Whittney Evans
/
KUER
A new report published by the Economic Roundtable, an urban research nonprofit, found pandemic related job loss will cause twice as much chronic-homelessness than the 2008 Great Recession and Latinos and African Americans are especially vulnerable. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, January 12, 2021

Northern Utah

University Of Utah President Ruth Watkins Stepping Down In April

University of Utah President Ruth Watkins announced Tuesday she will be stepping down in April. In a statement, she said she is leaving to head up a national education organization. University officials said Watkins helped the U increase graduation rates and bring in more donor contributions and research funding. But her legacy will be marked by the on-campus murder of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey. As part of a settlement with her family in October, Watkins admitted the university mishandled her case. Read the full story. Jon Reed

Utah’s COVID-19 Positivity Rate Dips Below 30%

Utah health officials reported another 2,146 COVID-19 cases Tuesday. Officials also announced 26 more Utahns have died from the disease, but they say almost half of those people died in late December. The state’s positivity rate has now fallen below 30% for the first time in more than a week. Hospitalizations remain high, with almost all of the state’s intensive care units nearing capacity. — Ross Terrell

Frontline Pandemic Stress Taking A Toll On Healthcare Workers

The stress of being on the front lines of the pandemic may be taking a toll on workers' mental health. University of Utah Health scientists surveyed hospital workers and emergency responders in the Mountain West last spring and the Journal of Psychiatric Research later published the study. More than half of them said they had at least one mental health disorder. Problematic alcohol use, depression and insomnia were the most common. Rates of mental health disorders were similar to those found in people working during disasters like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Pandemic Related Job Loss Could Lead To Increase In Chronic Homelessness

A new report published by the Economic Roundtable, an urban research nonprofit, found pandemic related job loss will cause twice as much chronic-homelessness than the 2008 Great Recession and Latinos and African Americans are especially vulnerable. The organization found people who are currently employed in low-wage industries like restaurants and retail will be at high risk. The report also said both Latino’s and African American’s face other barriers that can contribute to homelessness including inequality in the education system and housing discrimination. — Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau

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