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AM News Brief: Sheriff Deputies Shot, Masks On Public Transit & Child Tax Credit In Struggling Rural Counties

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Tony Webster
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The Utah Transit Authority will still require masks throughout its public transit system in accordance with an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Monday morning, April 12, 2021

State

COVID-19 Weekend Update

The Utah Department of Health reported around 750 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. There were also two new deaths related to the virus, though both happened before March 18. Utah’s vaccine rollout continued, with more than 50,000 shots administered. The statewide mask mandate ended Saturday, and state health officials issued a new public health order requiring masks in public gatherings of 50 or more people where physical distancing isn’t possible. — Emily Means

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Bail Law Repealed, But “Culture” Has Changed

In May, a landmark piece of Utah bail reform legislation will be largely repealed under a new state law. However, some judges said their courtrooms won’t be fully returning to the old way of doing things. The bail reform law being repealed requires judges to release low-level offenders using the least restrictive measures appropriate to their case and other circumstances. Salt Lake County Judge Todd Shaughnessy and southeast Utah Judge George Harmond said judges will probably still end up using pre-trial release much more frequently than before bail reform, because the law created a cultural change. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Lethal Shootout Near Salt Lake County Jail

Two deputies from the Salt County Sheriff’s Department were injured in a shootout Saturday. Joshua Buerke and Leland Grossett were patrolling near the county jail and were shot in the face by Joshua Johnson. Johnson died and both deputies were taken to the hospital. Sheriff Rosie Rivera said it’s a difficult time for law enforcement and that “these types of incidents are really devastating for the department. The environment for law enforcement right now is extremely dangerous.” Buerke was released from the hospital Saturday. Grossett underwent surgery and is in stable condition. Police are still investigating the incident. — Emily Means

Masks On Public Transit

The Utah Transit Authority will still require masks throughout its public transit system in accordance with an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s despite the end of the statewide mask mandate. Kids under 2 years old and people with qualifying medical conditions are exempt from the policy. UTA will provide face coverings for bus and train riders who don’t have them, and will also continue to disinfect surfaces in its vehicles and stations daily. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

Zion Seeks Input On Shuttle Tickets

Zion National Park wants public input on the cost of shuttle tickets. The park is proposing raising prices from $1 to $2 to cover staffing and operational costs around the shuttle ticket system. The timed ticket system started last year in response to the pandemic as a way to manage crowds and create space on shuttles so people can physically distance themselves from others. The new shuttle system will likely be in place through this summer and possibly into fall. The National Park Service is accepting comments from now until April 25. — Emily Means

Region/Nation

Vaccine Passport Scams

The Better Business Bureau is warning people to watch out for scams around vaccine passports. As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, some countries and businesses are considering requiring digital records of vaccination status, but the U.S. government has said it won’t mandate them. So the BBB says if you receive a message that appears to be from the federal government, it’s likely a scam. They also advise individuals not to post photos of their vaccination cards on social media, which could make a person more vulnerable to identity theft. — Emily Means

Western Child Poverty And The Tax Credit

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan includes a temporary boost to the Child Tax Credit. Most American families can expect a tax credit of $3,600 dollars per child under six and $3,000 per older child. The plan could have an outsized impact on rural parts of our region, where child poverty rates are the highest — like New Mexico’s McKinley and Sierra Counties, where it’s more than 40%. Advocates say it could be transformative for the very poorest families and have urged the Biden Administration to make the change permanent. But doing so could be a tough sell in Congress, where it’s faced criticism from Republicans. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau