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AM News Brief: Salt Lake Protest, Romney College Savings Plan & Vaccines And Pregnancy

BLM Protest April 2021 IM.jpg
Ivana Martinez
/
KUER
Around 70 people gathered outside Salt Lake City Hall Saturday to protest the recent police killings of Daunte Wright near Minneapolis and Adam Toledo in Chicago. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, April 19, 2021

State

State’s Tax Revenue Falling Short

Utah’s main sources of tax revenue are lagging behind projections for the year. The state is currently 1.6% behind estimates, according to the state’s fiscal analysts. If things don’t change, that could lead to a $148 million deficit at the end of the fiscal year. State lawmakers recently approved a $100 million tax cut based on budget projections. Legislative economists do predict collections will pick up as people and businesses pay income taxes this month and next. — Lexi Peery

State Cuts Sexual Assault Kit Processing Time in Half

The average processing time for sexual assault kits in Utah has been cut in half since the backlog was cleared seven months ago. Sexual assault kits contain swabs from a survivor that are tested for DNA at the state’s crime lab. In early September, it took about 90 days on average for a new kit to be fully processed. Now, it’s 41 days, according to state crime lab director Amy Lightfoot. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Weekend COVID Update

The Utah Department of Health reported 661 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, but no new deaths. Almost 1.2 million Utahns have received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 790,000 are fully vaccinated. The state’s test positivity rate has hovered around 3.6% for the past week, with a daily average of new at 394. — Lexi Peery

Health Expert Encourages Vaccine During Pregnancy

Experts are saying the COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant people and can also protect unborn children against the virus. Dr. Sean Esplin is senior medical director for women's health at Intermountain Healthcare. He said the data aren’t showing any unusual complications during pregnancy due to the virus. He also said there is some evidence that it produces an immune response that is reaching the baby. Esplin said a COVID-19 infection can be more severe in pregnant people, so it’s especially important for them to get vaccinated. — Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Protest Remembers Victims of Police Killings

Around 70 people gathered outside Salt Lake City Hall Saturday to protest the recent police killings of Daunte Wright near Minneapolis and Adam Toledo in Chicago. Trinidad Allred, 23, spoke at the rally. “White folks don't understand the trauma when one of us dies,” she said. “We as black people know all too well how close we are to becoming the next “justice for” campaign that will never get justice.” The protest was hosted by the Salt Lake Chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.Speakers argued that the city needs to defund the police to prevent further violence. — Sonja Hutson

Johnston Takes Reigns of City’s Homelessness Efforts

Salt Lake City Council Member Andrew Johnston will be the city’s new Director of Homelessness Policy and Outreach. He’ll be in charge of helping shape the city’s homelessness response and coordinating with non profits and other government agencies. Johnston is a licensed clinical social worker and part of the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness. The city did not say when he’ll start his new position. It’s also not clear yet when and how his position on the city council will be filled, but the city is promising more details in the coming days. — Sonja Hutson

Region/Nation

Romney Sponsors College Savings Bill

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, is co-sponsoring federal legislation with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ, to create a new type of savings account for low-income students to save for higher education. Qualifying students would set up savings accounts and the state or a non-profit organization would match every dollar a student puts into the account by $8. Once a student enrolls in a school, they can access that money to pay tuition. The program would also provide financial literacy training and grants. The bill was first introduced last year in March and will be re-introduced to the Senate this session. — Caroline Ballard