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PM News Brief: Deer Hunting, New Southwest Utah Hospital & Drought Plans

A project rendering image of the Steward Health Care Hospital.
Courtesy of Steward Health Care
/
Southwest Utah is getting a new hospital. Steward Health Care announced Wednesday it will break ground on the new facility in the city of Washington in July. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, March 24, 2021

State

Utah Deer Hunting Permits Could Drop By Nearly 5,000

Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources wants to decrease the number of deer hunting permits for this season’s hunt. Biologists with DWR said their goal is to have a little more than 400,000 deer in the state. Right now, the animal’s population is about 315,000. As a result, wildlife officials are recommending about 5,000 fewer general season permits. DWR is also asking for public feedback on the recommendation to slice permits. Comments can be submitted online. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Health Officials Say Just Get A Vaccine

As of Wednesday, Utahns ages 16 and up can now get a COVID-19 vaccine. Utah has been administering the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson versions. Gary Edwards, with the Salt Lake County Health Department, said he’s gotten a lot of questions about which one is better to take. “These are all effective vaccines,” Edwards said. “No one is better than another. Just take the first opportunity to be vaccinated.” He said most people experience mild symptoms like soreness or a fever after getting the shot. So far, Utah has administered more than 1.2 million doses of the vaccine. Health officials reported 562 new cases Wednesday and five more people have died from the disease. — Ivana Martinez

Salt Lake City Releases Stage 1 Of City’s Drought Plans

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall issued an advisory Wednesday saying water levels are projected to be much lower than average in the coming months. Stream flow is expected to be roughly half of usual amounts. The Stage 1 advisory is the first step in the city’s water shortage contingency plan. It’s voluntary, and it recommends checking faucets and sprinkler systems for leaks and needed repairs. The announcement comes on the heels of Gov. Spencer Cox’s declaration of a state of emergency due to extreme drought conditions in the state. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Navajo Schools Considering Return To In-Person

The Navajo Nation is considering lifting its restriction on in-person education. That would allow schools in San Juan County that serve Navajo students to reopen. The Navajo Nation moved from its red risk phase down to orange two weeks ago. That came after a steep decline in new COVID-19 cases, likely as a result of widespread vaccination. But some parents are still worried it’s too soon to reopen schools. The Nation’s plan requires school districts to survey parents and respond to their concerns with individualized reopening plans. So some schools could stay closed or re-open with limited capacity, according to the San Juan School District superintendent. Read the full story. Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Sorenson’s Ranch School Gets Severe Penalty From The State

Sorenson’s Ranch School is a youth residential treatment center in Sevier County. It also just became the first facility in nearly two years that the Office of Licensing — has placed on a conditional license. The office is also a main regulator of teen treatment businesses in Utah. It posted a report online Tuesday, explaining Sorenson’s violations. They include forcing kids to do manual labor and sending them to a place called “Mountain Camp” where they did projects for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The office also found that staff had verbally mistreated and threatened kids. Read the full story. — David Fuchs

Arches And Canyonlands Extending Visitor Center Hours

Spring is here, and that means Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are extending visitor center hours and opening up more permits. The visitor centers at Arches, Island in the Sky and The Needles will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning April 1. On April 5, visitors will be able to get backcountry permits in person from the permit office south of Moab. On May 4, permits will be available to hike Fiery Furnace in Arches. Face masks are required in all national park buildings and facilities. Visitors must also wear masks outside and on trails when physical distancing isn’t possible. — Caroline Ballard

Southwest Utah Getting A New Hospital

Southwest Utah is getting a new hospital. Steward Health Care announced Wednesday it will break ground on the new facility in the city of Washington in July. This will be the healthcare system’s sixth location in Utah. The other five are along the Wasatch Front. In a press release, Steward cited population growth in the area. It pointed to data that show St. George’s population is expected to double by 2060. Officials also said this part of the state is underserved medically. Steward expects to begin welcoming patients in October 2023. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Mental Health Experts Say Focus On The Present To Deal With Trauma

It’s been a traumatic past year — the pandemic, social justice protests in response to police brutality and an insurrection at the nation’s capital. Now, our nation is dealing with two mass shootings within six days. Trauma experts say these events send our brain into hyper-alert where it fears danger is everywhere. Experts say one way to heal trauma is to focus on the present moment. — Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau