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PM News Brief: Derek Chauvin Guilty Verdict, Addressing Homelessness & Angela Dunn Leaving

A photo of Dr. Angela Dunn at a COVID press conference.
Steve Griffin
/
Deseret News
Utah’s epidemiologist Angela Dunn is leaving the state’s department of health to lead the Salt Lake County Health Department. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, April 20, 2021

State

Utah Elected Officials React To Derek Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Current and former Utah elected officials have weighed in on the guilty verdicts announced Tuesday against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. He was convicted on three counts for murdering George Floyd last year. Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said in a statement it was clear George Floyd was murdered without remorse and she was pleased with the verdicts. Utah’s former Republican Rep. Mia Love tweeted “Justice was served, but let’s remember the life that was lost.” Several activist groups planned events on Tuesday night in reaction. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Dr. Angela Dunn Leaving As State Epidemiologist To Lead Salt Lake County

Utah’s epidemiologist Angela Dunn is leaving the state’s department of health to lead the Salt Lake County Health Department. In a statement Tuesday, UDOH said it’s “hard to overstate” the life saving contributions Dunn made to the state’s COVID-19 response. She sometimes found herself at odds with elected officials over the past year in how the state was handling the pandemic. But Dunn has been a mainstay at COVID press conferences since last summer. She is replacing Gary Edwards who has been with the county health department for the past 16 years. Her first day is June 1. — Ross Terrell

Utah COVID-19 Update

Utah health officials reported 315 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. Eight more people have died from the virus but four of those deaths happened before March 20. Test positivity is down from a week ago. The week long average of tests coming back positive is 3.2%. More than 1.9 million doses of the vaccine have been administered. — Caroline Ballard

Gov. Spencer Cox Signs Bill To Change How State Handles Homelessness

Utah’s governor signed a bill into law Tuesday that will change the way the state handles homelessness. It creates a statewide council and services officer to better coordinate addressing the issue. Rob Wesemann is the co-chair of the Salt Lake Valley Coalition to End Homelessness and said he’s excited about discussing solutions at a state level. “We think it’s an opportunity to have additional conversations, to educate more and to implement strategies that we know work that maybe we need to bring to scale,” Wesemann said. He said he hopes the new state officer will consider housing-first strategies that include services like mental health treatment and job training. — Emily Means

Region/Nation

Sen. Mike Lee Introduces State Grazing Management Authority Act

Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, has introduced the State Grazing Management Authority Act. The bill would let states oversee grazing programs on federal land permitted to ranchers. A press release from Lee’s office said the agricultural community faces bureaucratic challenges in accessing public land. Lee said states are more responsive to the needs of grazers and help them create a thriving range. — Ross Terrell

Ensuring Stability In Ecosystems By Protecting Pests

Rare plants and animals aren’t the only ones we need to protect. That’s according to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder. Researchers monitored plants and pollinator species in a meadow for more than five years and found that common species like flies and common flowering plants play a big role in ensuring stability in the entire ecosystem. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau