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PM News Brief: Amazon Text Scams, Scott Miller Drops Out & Closed Fire Season Begins

A photo of firefighters in grass.
Courtesy of Utah Fire Info Twitter
Southwest Utah’s closed fire season starts Saturday. That means things like debris burning aren’t allowed on unincorporated or private lands. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, April 30, 2021

State

60% Of Utahns Feel Somewhat Comfortable Returning To Live Arts

Utah’s leisure and hospitality industry lost almost $71 million in revenue last year due to the pandemic. But a new survey from Y2 Analytics found more than 60% of Utahns feel at least somewhat comfortable going back to entertainment venues. Crystal Young-Otterstrom is with the Utah Cultural Alliance. She said arts and entertainment businesses are looking for a return to pre-pandemic ways. Young-Otterstrom said the best way to support these companies is to renew memberships and subscriptions. — Ivana Martinez

Utah Better Business Bureau Warns About Amazon Text Scams

If you’ve gotten a text recently saying you’ve won a prize from Amazon, think twice about opening any links in it. Utah’s Better Business Bureau is warning this text is a ploy by scammers to get your information. The link in the fake text will take users to a phishing website where their personal information could be stolen. According to the Better Business Bureau, Amazon is one of the most frequently-impersonated brands by scammers. — Caroline Ballard

Utah’s April COVID-19 Recap

Utah saw more than 11,000 new COVID-19 cases in the month of April. To end the month, health officials announced 338 more cases Friday. Despite seeing some dips, the state’s positivity rate remained relatively steady throughout April. It was 3.4% at the beginning of the month, now it’s at 3.5%. Over the past four weeks, the state has administered almost 737,000 vaccines. All Utahns 16 and up became eligible for the vaccine in late March. Officials reported Friday five more people have died from the virus. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Scott Miller Bows Out Of Race For Utah Republican Party Chair

Scott Miller has dropped out of the race to become the next chair of the Utah Republican Party. Miller is the former Salt Lake County Republican Chair. He announced he was dropping out Friday. It comes less than 24 hours before the state convention where delegates will elect the next chair. Miller said he’s leaving the race because there could be a lawsuit related to bullying allegations against his former communications director. He said if that happens, he could have a conflict of interest as state party chair. — Sonja Hutson

Southern Utah

Ironman Triathlon Returning To Southwest Utah

The Ironman race is returning to southern Utah. Last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic. More than 3,500 people are competing in Ironman 70.3 this weekend. The Washington County economy is expected to get a $8 to $10 million boost as a result, that’s according to Kevin Lewis, the director of the county’s tourism office. He said visitors are a “spark” that keeps the entire economy moving. David Cordero is the spokesperson for St. George. He said local residents may be annoyed about the influx of people and closed roads, but he said he hopes they see the big picture. Read the full story. Lexi Peery, St. George

Southwest Utah’s Closed Fire Season Starts Saturday

Southwest Utah’s closed fire season starts Saturday. That means things like debris burning aren’t allowed on unincorporated or private lands. The closed season usually starts June 1 and runs through October. It’s starting early this year because of abnormally dry and warm conditions. Kait Webb, with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said the start of closed fire season can be a moving target. Last year, it was extended into November because of dry and hot conditions. So far this year, there have been more than 155 starts in the state, and over 6,350 acres have burned. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Rep. Chris Stewart Introducing Bill To Increase Access To Suicide Prevention

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-UT, is re-introducing a bill that would increase access to suicide prevention resources for college students. The bipartisan legislation would require colleges and universities to include information about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the Crisis Text Line and campus mental health centers on student IDs. If the school does not have IDs, it must be displayed on its website. Stewart was a big proponent of designating 988 as a national mental health emergency number, like 911. Former President Donald Trump signed that bill in the fall. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. — Caroline Ballard

Lumber Is Becoming More Expensive As Housing Costs Continue To Rise

The price of homes in a majority of the Mountain West keeps getting higher. And now, the price of lumber is making things worse. By one report, lumber prices have increased 240% from a year ago. It has a lot to do with the pandemic. For one, as people spent more time at home over the last year, there was an increase in home improvement projects. Plus, transporting lumber got more complicated. But even before the pandemic, there was a supply chain issue coming from Canada. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau