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PM News Brief: Rising Unemployment Claims, Affordable Care Enrollment & Tribal Victories

Halchita is a census-designated place on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, Utah. The nation has some of the lowest census response rates in the country, and some are worried there won’t be enough time to get an accurate count. The population in Hachita was 266 according to the 2010 census.
Kate Groetzinger
The Navajo Nation reached a settlement over the 2015 Gold King mine wastewater spill. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, January 14, 2021


Utah Doubles Down On Vaccination Efforts

Utah has nearly doubled the amount of vaccines it’s distributed in the last week. Gov. Spencer Cox instituted major changes to the state’s distribution plans a week ago, which put local health departments in charge of distribution rather than individual medical providers. He also told them to use all their doses within a week. Cox said his administration has told local health departments that they can have whatever resources they need from the state to administer vaccines quickly. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Unemployment Claims On The Rise Again In Utah

Unemployment claims in Utah have started to rise again. More than 7,600 people filed for new benefits last week — up nearly 40% compared to the week before. That’s according to numbers released Thursday by the state’s Department of Workforce Services. New claims consistently dropped through late summer and the fall. But officials said the increase can be tied to the extension of federal unemployment benefits. — Ross Terrell

ACA Enrollment Up In Utah

Healthcare enrollment through the Affordable Care Act is up this year. That’s according to the latest count from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Nearly 208,000 Utahns signed up for healthcare through the public marketplace — which is up about 4% from last year. The advocacy group Utah Health Policy Project said the increase is mostly likely due to job losses or people seeing a reduction in benefits during the pandemic. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Health Department Sends Out Erroneous Notifications

The Salt Lake County Health Department accidentally sent a notification Wednesday night telling older residents their COVID-19 vaccination appointments were cancelled. The department later tweeted the notice was an error and no scheduled events were canceled. The county had 30,000 slots available for residents over 70 to sign up to get vaccinated. All spots have already been claimed. The state is currently vaccinating teachers, school staff and health care workers. Residents 70 and older will be eligible starting Monday and they can sign up now for appointments with their local health department. — Jon Reed


Mountain West Tribes Secure Environmental Wins

Tribes in the Mountain West saw two rare victories against environmental polluters this week. In Idaho, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes were granted regulatory jurisdiction over hazardous waste stored on their reservation by a chemical corporation. And the Navajo Nation reached a settlement over the 2015 Gold King mine wastewater spill. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

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