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AM News Brief: Romney On Impeachment, Weekend COVID & Are Vaccines Languishing?

Photo of Mitt Romney
Pool Photo
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Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney said he thinks it was appropriate for the House to impeach former President Donald Trump. This story and more in Monday morning's news brief.

Monday morning, January 25, 2021

State

Weekend COVID Numbers

Utah health officials announced nearly 3,300 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The state added more than 2,000 cases each day over the last half of the week. But both Saturday and Sunday saw daily counts below that mark. Officials also reported over the weekend that 24 more people have died from COVID-19. But six of those people passed away last year. As of Sunday, 461 people were hospitalized for the disease. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Governor Disputes Report That Vaccines Are Waiting On Shelves

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox responded Sunday to an investigation about the state’s vaccine rollout. A report by the Salt Lake Tribune said around 31,000 vaccines have been sitting on shelves in Utah for over a week. The Tribune also reported that Utah is receiving the lowest number of vaccines per capita of any state in the U.S. Cox's office released data Sunday night that showed the unused doses are primarily those that were delivered to pharmacies. Numbers showed stores like CVS and Walgreens had only used about half of the doses they received from the federal government. Spokespeople for the pharmacies told the Tribune they do not have extra doses. So far, 228,000 doses have been administered in Utah. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Concealed Carry Bill

Utahns would not need a permit to carry a concealed gun under a bill making its way through the state Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, got the green light from a legislative committee Friday after nearly two hours of debate. Proponents of the bill said the state needed to trust legal gun owners more to use their weapons properly. But opponents are worried about removing a concealed carry permit training requirement that goes over firearm safety and suicide prevention. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Southern/Central Utah

Moab ATV Rally Denied Permit

In December, Grand County denied a permit to a large, annual off-roading event in Moab called Rally on the Rocks. That prompted the Blue Ribbon Coalition and the event organizers to threaten to sue the county. Ben Burr is with the off-road advocacy group, and he said the permit denial breaks both federal and state laws. But county commissioner Kevin Walker said it was a small gesture to help Moab residents who say the noisy vehicles are ruining their lives. Walker blames the issue on a state law that makes it legal to drive off-highway vehicles on city streets everywhere but Salt Lake County, and he said Grand County is lobbying lawmakers to grant them the ability to regulate OHVs in Moab. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

2020 Meant Fewer Visitors To Dinosaur

Fewer people visited Dinosaur National Monument in 2020 than the year before. The National Park Service says there were about 11% fewer visitors than 2019 — about 35,000 people. The pandemic was a major factor. April, May and June all saw significant drops in visitor numbers — the most intense months of lockdown. However, those were the only months with negative changes. The rest of the year visitation was up, with January seeing the biggest increase. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Romney Supports Impeachment Process

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, said he thinks it was appropriate for the House to impeach former President Donald Trump. Trump was impeached for inciting an insurrection due to his role in the Capitol riots earlier this month. Speaking on CNN Sunday, Romney said Trump’s actions continued a pattern of trying to corrupt the election. He cited the former president’s interactions with Ukraine and accused him of spreading lies about the election process. But the Utah senator said Trump deserves a chance to defend himself and the impeachment process must play out. Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to impeach the former president last year. — Ross Terrell

Monarch Count Finds Grim Numbers

Researchers say the monarch butterfly may be getting that much closer to extinction. In December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the monarch butterfly as an endangered species. That was despite the invertebrate qualifying for such protections. And now, things look especially dire. A recent count by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation recorded fewer than 2,000 of the butterfly’s western population. That number is usually closer to tens of thousands. And back in the 1980s, it was in the millions. Scientists point to the destruction of the butterfly’s milkweed habitat along its migratory route as part of the problem. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau