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PM News Brief: School Crossings, Homeless Count & More Vaccines To Come

A photo of a school crosswalk.
Elaine Clark
/
KUER
Students are returning to in-person learning in Salt Lake City. Now the school district is reminding drivers to slow down in school zones. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, January 28, 2021

State

More Vaccines On The Way

The Biden Administration is increasing Utah’s share of the Moderna vaccine. Gov. Spencer Cox said starting next week the state will be getting 40,000 total doses a week, up from 33,000. He said that number could triple by the spring as more vaccines get federal approval. The state reported 1,761 new COVID-19 cases Thursday. There were no new deaths reported, but the state tweeted that was because of a data error. Around 267,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Utah. — Lexi Peery

Tracking Individual's Vaccinations

Utah lawmakers are working to improve the state’s vaccine database. It tracks which vaccines a person has received so healthcare providers have a centralized place to access the information. State representatives Thursday passed a bill that requires a vaccine provider to report information to the state, but also makes it easier for people to opt out of sharing that information. Lawmakers said the vaccine database has strong privacy protections, but reported hearing from constituents that are suspicious of it. They said the goal of the database is to make sure people don’t accidentally receive more vaccines than they need. — Jon Reed

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Counting The Pandemic Impact On Homelessness

Homeless outreach teams across Utah conducted the annual point-in-time count early Thursday morning. That’s when they try to physically count every unsheltered person and connect them with resources. Rob Wesemann, co-chair of Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, said as the data comes in from around the state, they’re waiting to see how the pandemic has impacted homelessness. “What the outreach teams seem to be seeing is newer individuals, people that they haven't seen before,” Wesemann said. “So we potentially could see increased numbers.” He said in recent years the rate of people experiencing homelessness has stayed steady. The Utah Department of Workforce Services will release a report on the data later this year. — Emily Means

New Unemployment Claims Down

New claims for unemployment benefits in Utah were down for the week of Jan. 17-23. People filed 4,535 new claims. That’s down from more than 6,000 new claims the week before. The state saw a slight bump in unemployment claims in January. But the Utah Department of Workforce Services said that’s partly because certain pandemic-specific benefits were extended at the end of 2020. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Virtual Festival A Blow To Park City Economy

The Sundance Film Festival began Thursday. But because it’s all virtual, Park City won’t see the usual influx of people — and money — to its economy. Last year, nearly 120,000 people came for the 10-day festival, spending over $150 million. Not having Sundance this year — on top of the pandemic — is going to be difficult for some businesses to come back from. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Parents Lose School Case

Parents in the Salt Lake City School District who had sued the district to reopen schools lost their case Thursday. They argued the district's decision to remain online this year violated their kids’ rights to free and public education. But the judge ruled the state constitution only guarantees the kids access to schools’ curriculum — not necessarily their chosen medium of instruction. The district has already begun to reopen elementary schools, and will open middle and high schools in a hybrid schedule next month. — Jon Reed

Slow Down For Students

Students are returning to in-person learning in Salt Lake City. Now the school district is reminding drivers to slow down in school zones. Kindergarteners and first graders are already back, and new grades will be added each week. All students are expected to be back in person by Feb. 8. The district said drivers should be on the lookout when approaching crosswalks, especially during morning and afternoon hours. The district is also looking to hire more crossing guards for schools. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Tightening the U.S.-Canadian Border

The U.S. and Canada are making it even tougher to cross the border in an effort to stop new variants of COVID-19 from spreading. The two countries are in talks to close a loophole allowing Canadians to fly down to the states. They’re requiring travellers to test negative for the virus at most three days before entering the respective countries. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau