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AM News Brief: Rioting Penalties, Kane County Jail Outbreak & Tracking COVID In Native Communities

Protesters kneel outside the SLCPD.
Ross Terrell
/
KUER
People arrested for rioting in Utah would have to appear in court before being released from jail under a bill passed by a legislative committee last week. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, February 22, 2021

State

Transgender Healthcare Bills Hit Roadblock

A Utah bill that would limit transgender children’s access to gender affirming healthcare hit a major legislative roadblock Friday. The bill would ban transgender children from getting gender affirmation surgery or accessing hormone therapy like puberty blockers. Leading medical organizations don’t recommend surgery for most people under 18 but say puberty blockers are reversible and safe for young people. The House Committee that heard the bill sent it back to the Rules Committee, which decides what bills advance to public hearings. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Rioting Bill Gets Committee Approval

People arrested for rioting in Utah would have to appear in court before being released from jail under a bill passed by a legislative committee last week. Sponsor Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, said the legislation also narrows the definition of riot to only apply to violent conduct. “This is not about protests and certainly not about ideology,” he said. “When you talk about violence to each other or to one another’s property that is a completely different act than the act of a protest and expressing ourselves.” Another measure passed last week creates harsher penalties for rioting. The bills are in response to last summer’s demonstrations against racial injustice. — Emily Means

Weekend COVID Stats

The Utah Department of Health reported 1,479 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend. State health officials also reported 18 more Utahns died from the disease, but seven of those deaths took place before Feb. 1. More than 600,000 Utahns have now gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. — David Fuchs

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Southern Utah

Kane County Jail Outbreak

There are now 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Kane County jail. The outbreak began three weeks ago, and officials said the virus has spread quickly throughout the jail’s 176 inmates. They expect to see more positive cases in the coming days, though they also reported that infected inmates are showing mild or no symptoms. As of Friday, there were 75 active cases of COVID-19 in Kane County, according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Angel’s Landing Death

Rangers at Zion National Park found a male body Friday afternoon near Angel’s Landing after looking for an “overdue hiker.” Park officials did not release the man’s identity in their statement Friday evening. Angel’s Landing is one of the park’s most popular hikes. Several hikers have fallen from its steep cliffs and died in recent years. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Lee Says There Is Room “For Many Views”

Utah Sen. Mike Lee said in a statement Friday there’s enough room in the Republican party for people who voted to convict former President Donald Trump. He said it’s not a “cause for alarm” that he and Sen. Mitt Romney disagreed about impeachment. Lee voted to acquit the former president while Romney voted to convict Trump for a second time. Lee said the Republican Party should “work tirelessly” to take back the House and Senate in 2022. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Tracking COVID-19 In Native American Communities

More than a quarter of U.S. states don’t have a “Native American” category on their public COVID-19 dashboards according to a new report from the Urban Indian Health Institute. It gave the U.S. as a whole a “D+” on its tracking of COVID-19 data among Native people. The report found that states with more Indigenous residents tend to keep better data on the population. Among Mountain West States, only New Mexico and Wyoming scored below the national average. There have been 4,911 cases among Native Americans in Utah, which was given a “B+” for its tracking. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau