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PM News Brief: Innovation Encouragement, Opioid Settlement & Backcountry Skiing Closures

A photo of Eagle Race Arena at Park City Mountain Resort.
Wikimedia Commons
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Park City Mountain Resort has closed its backcountry gates. That comes after two people died in avalanches outside the skiing boundaries near Park City ridgeline. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, February 5, 2021

State

Utah House Approves Bill To Encourage Innovation

The Utah House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill Friday aimed at encouraging innovation. The legislation would create a program to temporarily waive regulations on companies bringing a new and transformative product or service to the market. Companies would have to apply to the newly created program and they could operate without those regulations for a maximum of two years. The bill still needs Senate approval. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Part Of $573 Million National Opioid Settlement

Utah’s Attorney General announced Thursday the state is part of a $573 million opioid settlement. Utah will receive about $6.4 million. The settlement is with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The case against the firm looked at how it contributed to the opioid crisis through marketing schemes. The complaint says McKinsey & Company advised Purdue Pharma to target high volume opioid prescribers. It also said the firm avoided pharmacy restrictions. In a press release, Attorney General Sean Reyes said he was very pleased with the settlement and that Utah will continue to pursue legal action against other involved parties. — Ross Terrell

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah health officials reported more than 1,200 COVID-19 cases Friday. After reporting fewer than 600 cases on Monday, officials announced more than 1,200 cases every day since. Vaccine administration continues to be on the rise too. So far, more than 380,000 doses have been given out. Health officials also reported another 17 people have died from the disease — 12 of them in early January. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Park City Mountain Resort Closes Backcountry Gate

Park City Mountain Resort has closed its backcountry gates. That comes after two people died in avalanches outside the skiing boundaries near Park City ridgeline. Backcountry skiing will be paused for the foreseeable future, limiting access to the Wasatch Back. Utah Avalanche Center’s Greg Gagne said when skiers enter the backcountry they are exposing themselves to an avalanche. He said if skiers are going to leave the gated resort, they should be prepared to check weather conditions and have rescue equipment with them. Park City Mountain Resort and the U.S. Forest Service will continue to have conversations about the closure. — Ivana Martinez

Salt Lake County Closes Art Venues Through March 24

Salt Lake County announced its art venues will remain closed to the public for another seven weeks. Abravanel Hall, Capitol Theatre, Eccles Theater and Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center won’t reopen until March 24 at the earliest. It’s all an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. These venues have mostly stayed closed since the beginning of the pandemic, with some exceptions. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Red Rock Wilderness Act Could Help Slow Climate Change

A study released by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance shows a federal bill to protect public land in the state would help slow climate change. But the legislation has to get through Congress first. America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act would prevent extraction and development on around 8 million acres of public land scattered throughout western and southern Utah. Laura Hilberg is a climate scientist with EcoAdapt. She said the landscape covered by the bill could reduce atmospheric carbon by 30 million metric tons by the end of the century. That’s like saving 3 billion gallons of gasoline. But Utah Republicans have historically fought against the legislation. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

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