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AM News Brief: County GOP Chair Resignation, Asian American Anti-Hate Protest & Call For Drought Action

Exceptional Drought Central Iron County Water Conservancy District.jpg
Courtesy Central Iron County Water Conservancy District
/
Quichapa Lake, southern Utah, Sept. 2020. Over half of Utah is in “exceptional drought” conditions, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, March 29, 2021

State

Tests Positivity Rate Stands At Just Under 4%

Utah health officials reported 849 total new cases of COVID-19 Saturday and Sunday, bringing the daily average for the week to 422. Utah’s test positivity rate has plateaued under 4% for the past week. The state also reported 23 more deaths from the virus over the weekend, but said 15 happened before March 1. About a quarter of the state’s population has had at least one vaccine dose. — Jon Reed

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

County GOP Chair Resigns Amidst Complaints Of Toxic Culture

The chairman of the Salt Lake County Republican Party resigned Sunday. Scott Miller faced blowback over the weekend after publicly dismissing complaints from women in the party. At least six had raised concerns about a toxic and bullying culture at the county GOP, directed largely at women. Miller accused them of being sore losers for not having won elections and said they were attempting to “cancel” him ahead of his bid to serve as the state’s GOP leader. Former Republican gubernatorial candidate Aimee Winder Newton tweeted Sunday that Miller wasn’t canceled, but rather “held accountable.” — Jon Reed

Community Gathers To Protest Violence Against Asian Americans

Northern Utah residents joined thousands across the country to protest increased violence and discrimination towards Asian Americans. Around 100 people gathered Saturday at the International Peace Gardens in Salt Lake City. Japanese-American Ayame Cordero said she’s sometimes scared to go outside because of how frequent attacks seem to be. She also said Asian Americans shouldn’t be treated differently because of their race. “We’re not a disease like people are acting like we are,” Cordero said. “We’re just people and we’re just trying to live.” Speakers at the event urged the media to call the recent shooting in Atlanta racially motivated. A white man killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent. Police there have not ruled the incident a hate crime. — Jon Reed

U Names New Head Basketball Coach

University of Utah has hired Craig Smith as head coach of the Runnin' Utes men's basketball program. Smith led Utah State University to three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths and two Mountain West Conference Tournament championships in his three seasons as head coach at Utah State. University of Utah Director of Athletics Mark Harlan made the announcement Friday. Smith replaces Larry Krystkowiak who was fired earlier this month after ten years with the Runnin' Utes. — Bob Nelson

Days of ‘47 Parade Returns

The Days of '47 Parade and all of the associated activities will return this July after they were cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Organizers said the parade is one of the longest-running in the country. It winds from downtown Salt Lake City to Liberty Park with thousands of people traditionally lining up days ahead of the event. They said the return of all the events will be subject to state and local COVID-19 requirements. Events include the Parade and Float Preview Party, Days of '47 Rodeo, Sunrise Service, Pops Concert and the Deseret News Marathon. — Bob Nelson

Southern Utah

New Online Degree Program

Southern Utah University has what it says might be the cheapest 4-year degree in the country. At $75 a credit, the program costs $9,000 to complete if starting from scratch. That’s roughly a quarter of the cost of most traditional and online colleges. SUU president Scott Wyatt said it was designed for returning students and for those who just can’t afford a traditional 4-year school. The program offers fewer classes and services than most undergraduate degrees. But for some people, Wyatt said that’s all they need. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Drought-Plagued Southwest Utah Asks For Individual Action

Over half of Utah is in “exceptional drought” conditions, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. The Central Iron County and Washington County Water Conservancy Districts are asking residents and visitors to do three things this year to help save water: wait to water yards until needed, fix leaky plumbing and take shorter showers. Gov. Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency nearly two weeks ago asking all Utah residents to find ways to conserve water due to exceptional drought. He said soil moisture levels are at their lowest in at least 15 years in what is already one of the driest states in the nation. “Exceptional drought” is the most serious level of drought — when streamflows are low and ponds are dry, native vegetation is stressed, air quality drops due to dust, fire restrictions are strict, and irrigation shares can be reduced. — Bob Nelson