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PM News Brief: Health Department Website Crashes, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy & COVID-19

Martin Luther King Jr addressing a crowd in August 1963
Wikimedia Commons
Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech in 1963.

Monday evening, January 18, 2021

State

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy

Across the country and Utah, people are honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy Monday. It’s the first MLK Day since last summer’s racial justice protests and just days before Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is set to make history as the first African-American woman to hold the office. Darlene McDonald is with Utah Black Roundtable and she said there still needs to be honest conversations about systemic racism and other institutional problems. “The only way that we can realize the true nature of Dr. King’s legacy is to address them in an honest way,” McDonald said. “Not as a day for pet projects.” She said for change to happen, people need to actually listen to what the Black experience in America is like. — Ross Terrell

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah health officials reported 1,082 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and seven more Utahns have died from the disease. Three of them were younger than 45. Vaccine distribution continues in Utah as the state has administered nearly 170,000 doses so far. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Capitol Security Remains On High Alert

Hundreds of police officers, highway patrol and National Guard members joined forces at the Utah State Capitol Sunday, in anticipation of a potentially violent protest. But the day came and went largely without incident. Utah leaders reacted positively to Sunday’s event, with Gov. Spencer Cox tweeting it was a “best-case scenario.” Law enforcement agencies will remain on standby in case any other major events happen over the next week, but are not anticipating anything significant. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Southern Utah

Southwest Utah Commissioners Ask For Public To Be Allowed In State Capitol

A dozen county commissioners want the public to be allowed to physically go to the capitol building during the Utah Legislature’s upcoming general session. In an email sent to the legislature Monday, the commissioners say Utahns feel ignored. They say people are burned out on virtual participation and that if legislators can meet in person, the public should be able to as well. The 45 day session begins Tuesday. For now, the public is barred from attending in person. That’s because of the ongoing pandemic and safety concerns after the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol. People can participate virtually. The commissioners who signed the letter are from Iron, Washington, Utah, Garfield, Uintah, Beaver, San Juan and Piute counties. They said if the legislature won’t allow the public inside, the entire session should be postponed. — Caroline Ballard

Southwest Utah Health Department’s Website Crashes Amid Vaccine Sign Ups

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department website keeps crashing from increased traffic. That’s because residents 70 years and older started scheduling vaccine appointments Monday. Now, the department is using a different website for people to sign up for appointments and a majority of slots are already filled for this week. The health department posted on Facebook Monday asking people to stop continuously refreshing the home page. The post said it may take several weeks to vaccinate this age group. They said there is currently more demand than resources. — Lexi Peery, St. George