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AM News Brief: Honoring Late Lawmaker, Highway Construction & Parents Sue For In-Person Classes

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Cory Dinter for KUER
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Flags in Utah are to be lowered Tuesday in honor of the late Rep. LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, January 19, 2021

State

Honoring Late Utah Lawmaker

Flags in Utah are to be lowered Tuesday in honor of the late Rep. LaWanna “Lou” Shurtliff. The order comes from Gov. Spencer Cox. Shurtliff was a Democrat from Ogden. She served in the Utah House from 1999 to 2008 and again from 2018 to 2020. Shurtliff died on Dec. 30 at the age of 85. Gov. Cox says in a statement, “As a long-time representative and a beloved teacher at Ogden High School, Shurtliff was truly a devoted public servant.” The change in flag status coincides with the first day of the 2021 legislative session. — Bob Nelson

Southern/Central Utah

St. George Hospital ICU Full

Intermountain St. George Regional Hospital has been at 100% ICU capacity for the majority of this month. In December, it was over capacity 25 days of the 31 days. Patrick Carroll, the hospital’s medical director, said they have had to use surge ICU resources for the past two months to meet the demand. Southwest Utah Public Health Department Director David Blodgett said the department has tried to be consistent in their messaging, but he suspects it will be harder for people to pay attention to the message as the pandemic wears on. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Northern Utah

Salt Lake Parents Sue For In-Person Classes

Several parents in the Salt Lake City school district are heading to court Tuesday morning for a lawsuit they filed against the district. They’re arguing the district’s decision to remain online this year violates their kids’ rights to free and public education regardless of race, gender, religion or, in this case, location. The district had already planned on reopening elementary schools starting next week, and middle and high schools are set to open once all teachers and staff are vaccinated. Though that could be several weeks away. A representative for the parents said a decision could be made by the end of the day Tuesday. If the judge rules in favor of the parents, schools would likely open sooner than planned. — Jon Reed

Nighttime I-15 Slowdowns

Salt Lake Valley drivers should plan for nighttime northbound I-15 delays of up to 20 minutes. For the next two weeks, Utah Department of Transportation crews are working on northbound sections of I-15 from Draper to Midvale. Northbound I-15 will be reduced to two lanes nightly between Bangerter Highway and I-215 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. UDOT is putting in concrete pavement and installing new overhead freeway signs. Rolling slowdowns are possible between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. The Southbound I-15 Express Lane will also be closed as needed while crews work in the median. — Bob Nelson

Region/Nation

Navajo Nation President Put Hopes In Vaccines

Navajo Nation officials reported 96 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths Sunday. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been more than 26,000 cases on the reservation and more than 900 deaths. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said now that the holidays are over, he is optimistic the reservation has started to flatten its latest curve. And now that vaccine distribution is underway, he is hopeful that will help flatten the curve even more. Nez said residents still need to remain vigilant and practice health safety measures like staying home. The Navajo Nation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. — Associated Press

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