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PM News Brief: Rose Park Rally, Tellurium Collection & Ending Mask Mandates

Photo of a pile of blue surgical masks
Cylonphoto via iStock
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Utah’s statewide mask mandate is ending April 10. Gov. Spencer Cox said he’ll sign a bill that gets rid of the statewide mandate. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, March 8, 2021

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Undecided On Future Of Mask Mandate

Utah’s statewide mask mandate is ending April 10. Gov. Spencer Cox said he’ll sign a bill that gets rid of the statewide mandate. But that legislation also allows county councils and commissions to pass their own mask requirements. Salt Lake County Health Director Gary Edwards said they’re trying to figure out if one will still be necessary next month. Aimee Winder Newton is a Republican member of the county council. She said she’ll be using the health department's recommendation and COVID-19 data to make her decision on a mandate, not public pressure. The state’s health department is declining to comment on the mask mandate repeal until the governor signs the bill. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Rose Park Residents Rally Against Proposed Apartment Complex

Community members from Salt Lake City’s west side protested against a planned development over the weekend. The new apartment complex will demolish several homes and displace long-time residents. Shonte Griffin lives in the Rose Park neighborhood. She says finding a new place will cost her hundreds of more dollars a month. But she says she doesn’t have a choice. “You have to do what you gotta do,” Griffin said. “It’s either pay it or what are you going to do? I have two grandkids. Where are we supposed to go, get a tent and go around the corner? Salt Lake City officials said Rose Park has historically had some of the most affordable housing in town. Griffin and the other tenants have been told to leave by the end of March. — Emily Means

Rio Tinto To Start Collecting Tellurium From Waste Streams At Kennecott Mine

Mining company Rio Tinto announced Monday it will start collecting the mineral tellurium from waste streams at its Kennecott mine. Tellurium is a naturally occurring element and is often used in solar panels. It’s also a byproduct of copper mining and is mildly toxic. Rio Tinto said it will build a nearly $3 million plant to recover the mineral. Production is expected to start later this year. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, nearly all of domestic tellurium comes from a copper refinery in Texas. — Ross Terrell

Salt Lake County To Host Meetings On Westside Development Plans

Salt Lake County is holding virtual meetings this month to share its growth and conservation plan for the westside of the county. That includes unincorporated areas like the Great Salt Lake shoreline and the Oquirrh Mountains. The plan takes a big-picture look at development over the coming decades. It outlines plans for things like utilities, housing and transportation. The county said it also wants to hear public feedback. The first meeting is next Monday and residents can register online. — Caroline Ballard

State

Utah Jazz Well Represented At NBA All-Star Weekend Festivities

The NBA All-Star weekend wrapped up Sunday night where the Utah Jazz were well represented. Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley all played in the game. Jazz head coach Quin Snyder led the winning team. Conley was a late addition to the festivities but made his All Star game debut. Before the game, he competed in the three-point shootout. He lost in heartbreaking fashion — on the last shot of the final round. Mitchell also competed in the shooting competition. Utah tips off its second half of the season Friday night with a home game against Houston. — Ross Terrell

Utah Sees Lowest COVID-19 Case Count Since End Of August

Utah health officials announced 259 new cases of COVID-19 Monday. It’s the lowest number of cases in a single day since the end of August. Utah’s COVID situation seems to be improving but masks are still required statewide and social distancing is recommended. The number of tests coming back positive has been slowly declining for about the last two weeks. So far, more than 310,000 people have been fully vaccinated. Health officials reported one more person died from the virus. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Region/Nation

Wyoming Governor Ending State’s Mask Mandate

Wyoming’s Gov. Mark Gordon announced Monday his decision to end a statewide mask mandate and to remove all restrictions on restaurants, gyms, bars and theatres. Those public health orders will end on March 16. The announcement comes as many public health experts, including the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have urged states not to reopen too quickly. Travis Riddell is the Teton District Health Officer and said two more transmissible variants of the virus have already been detected in his county. Gordon said Wyoming’s declining number of hospitalizations and active COVID-19 cases were behind the decision. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau