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AM News Brief: Virtual Sundance Numbers, City Council Coin Toss & Teaching Consent

Photo of a billboard that reads, "Welcome to Utah."
Brian Albers
The largest ever audience attended the Sundance Film Festival both online and in-person, according to officials from the nonprofit event. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, February 9, 2021


Teaching Consent

Democratic Rep. Carol Spackman Moss wants to make consent a part of Utah’s health education. Spackman Moss said that would give students the tools to protect themselves. Utah is an opt-in state, where parents have to sign off on their student’s health education. Dr. Kellie Woodfield, an OB-GYN at the University of Utah, said consent has to do with communication skills and boundary settings. “This concept of consent isn't limited to just sexual behavior, but actually encompasses a broader effort to teach children and adolescents about respecting the agency of others,” she said. “It’s so much more than refusal skills.” The bill received major pushback as many took issue with the description and expansion of consent. There was also an argument that children cannot legally give consent. The House committee decided to not vote on the bill. — Ivana Martinez

Northern Utah

Virtual Sundance Boasts Largest Ever Festival Audience

The largest ever audience attended the Sundance Film Festival both online and in-person, according to officials from the nonprofit event. The 600,000 visitors nearly equalled the total population of Utah's seven largest cities. Festival officials announced Monday the seven-day event reached a total audience 2.7 times larger than at the typical 11 day Utah-only edition. That includes virtual visits from all 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The event also attracted audiences from 120 different countries. — Bob Nelson

Southern Utah

City Council Coin Toss

The St. George City Council selected its newest member Monday evening via coin toss. With 28 applicants and almost two hours of public interviews, the council wasn’t able to reach a majority. Deputy Washington County attorney Rick Erickson won the coin flip, but was not in attendance for it. Erickson fills the spot of Michele Randall who was appointed mayor after Jon Pike left to work in the governor’s cabinet. Randall is the first female leader in St. George history. — Lexi Peery, St. George


COVID-19 Impact On Rural Communities

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new report found the per capita death rates from COVID-19 in rural areas have surpassed those in urban areas since September. It notes rural residents are more prone to serious infections and lists reasons like older populations, people with underlying medical conditions and poor access to healthcare. But the report fails to note another major factor: the region’s Latino and Indigenous populations that are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, according to Shawnda Schroeder of the University of North Dakota’s Center for Rural Health. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Montana Senator Seeks To Block Haaland Nomination

Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana is seeking to block Deb Haaland’s historic nomination to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior. He said her past support for progressive policies to combat climate change will “hurt Montana” and the West. Daines is unlikely to succeed, but the move has angered many of his Indigenous constituents. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Cheney Says Trump Could Be Criminally Investigated

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney told Fox News that former President Donald Trump could be criminally investigated for his role in the attack on the Capitol. She said that in addition to the Senate impeachment trial for the former president, there will be many criminal investigations looking into what actually happened on Jan. 6. She also pointed to Trump’s tweet calling former Vice President Mike Pence a coward as something that could potentially be looked at as a premeditated effort to provoke violence. A number of the people apprehended and cited have specifically said that they believe they were following Trump’s directives that day. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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