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PM News Brief: Cleaning Bird Feeders, Navajo Nation Vaccination & San Juan County Masks

A small bird perched on and eating from a bird feeder.
Ross Bonander
Utah wildlife officials are reminding people to clean their bird feeders at least once a month. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, May 7, 2021

Southern Utah

Water For Tribes Initiative Asking Congress For More Funding

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a clear connection between access to clean water and public health, according to Navajo tribal member Bidtah Becker. She is part of a group called the Water & Tribes Initiative that advocates for water access in Indian Country. It is pushing Congress to pass funding for water infrastructure in Indian Country. Becker’s group hired University of Utah law professor Heather Tanana to compile a report on the issues tribes face when it comes to water. Tanana, who is Navajo, looked at four components: lack of infrastructure, contamination, increasing demand and insufficient maintenance funding. She found every tribe struggles with at least one of the problems. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Masks In San Juan County Schools

Parents in San Juan County are asking the school board to reverse a recent decision about masks. The board voted three weeks ago not to require a doctor’s note for a medical mask exemption. Since then, the number of exemptions has gone from around 12 to over 300. Teryn Lyman has three children in the district and signed a petition asking the school board to reinstate the doctor’s note requirement. “My daughter already has a little bit of asthma so she has breathing issues anyway, so that obviously stresses me out as a mother,” Lyman said. Around 100 people have signed the petition so far. Masks are required in schools until June 15. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Northern Utah

Request For No Racial Slurs Leads To Fatal Stabbing

A 16-year-old Utah boy has been charged with stabbing a woman to death in April after she told him to stop using racial slurs. Izaak Joseph Vijil was charged Thursday in the death of 34- year-old Melissa Wood in Murray. Vijil was allegedly “making racial slurs” in a parking lot with a group of other teens. Wood, who was playing with some children nearby, asked him to stop. Prosecutors said he then approached her and stabbed her in the torso. It's unclear if he has an attorney who could comment on his behalf. Vijil will be tried as an adult. — Associated Press


Got Bird Feeders? Clean Them At Least Once A Month

Utah wildlife officials are reminding people to clean their bird feeders at least once a month. Earlier this year, officials said they saw an increase in reports of sick or dead birds because of a salmonella outbreak in the northwest United States. But at the end of April, they said calls about bird deaths or illness had decreased. Still, officials said people should remain vigilant. If you do see a number of dead birds in your yards, you should remove feeders and bird baths for at least a month. That will help slow the spread of the disease. — Ross Terrell

Utah’s COVID-19 Test Positivity Rate Remains Steady Over The Week

Utah health officials reported 386 new cases of COVID-19 Friday. It’s the third day in a row case counts have decreased. On Wednesday, it spiked to nearly 500. The state’s test positivity rate has held steady in recent days. It remains unchanged compared to last Friday at 3.5%. Four more people have died from COVID but Utah saw two days this week with no new reported deaths. — Ross Terrell


More Than 100,000 Navajo Nation Residents Are Fully Vaccinated

More than 100,000 residents of the Navajo Nation are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. According to Navajo officials, nearly 226,000 vaccine doses have been administered. That’s over 91% of all the vaccine doses they’ve received. The Navajo Nation saw high rates of COVID-19 in the first few months of the pandemic. It implemented a number of safety measures to curb the spread of the disease, including curfews and travel restrictions. — Caroline Ballard

National Park Entry Tickets Are Going Fast

Entry tickets for some National Parks in our region are going fast. Several parks implemented new ticketing systems to control crowds and prevent COVID-19 spread. While some parks saw a dip in visitation in 2020, officials expect more people to get out to parks this year, now that the COVID-19 vaccine is available. — Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau

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