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AM News Brief: Guns At The Airport, Worker Training & Herd Immunity

A photo of Concourse A at the Salt Lake International Airport.
Courtesy of the Salt Lake International Airport
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Salt Lake City Police are asking air travelers to make sure they’ve left their guns at home following an increase in firearms found at the Salt Lake Airport security checkpoint. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, May 18, 2021

State

Lawmakers To Meet Wednesday

The Utah Legislature will convene in a special session Wednesday to decide how to allocate federal pandemic aid. Lawmakers are expected to accept about $1.6 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act, but they’re only planning to spend about $575 million right now. The legislature is also set to consider banning mask mandates in K-12 schools and higher education. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

State Offers Worker Training

Utah's Department of Workforce Services started a new campaign Monday to educate and train workers. In a news release, the department said it also aims to provide a more skilled workforce for employers. The move comes in the wake of the announcement by Gov. Spencer Cox that Utah is ending unemployment payments related to the pandemic. It will include short-term training assistance for occupational certificates or licences in fields like construction and cybersecurity. There will also be tuition aid to help people complete a GED certificate or college degree. A revamped website has been designed to help people seeking assistance. — Pamela McCall

Northern Utah

Salt Lake Synagogue Defaced With Swastika

Police are investigating a swastika that was found scratched into the door of a synagogue in Salt Lake City. Rabbi Avremi Zippel is with the Chabad Jewish Community Center Synagogue. He told KSL that the symbol isn't something one expects to see in 2021 and that it conveys a violent, hateful message to Jewish people. Salt Lake City police say surveillance footage of the front of the building shows a person scratching the swastika into the door around 2 a.m. Sunday, though the video is too dark to see clearly. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime. — Associated Press

Guns And Air Travel Don’t Mix

Salt Lake City Police are asking air travelers to make sure they’ve left their guns at home following an increase in firearms found at the Salt Lake Airport security checkpoint. In April, TSA officers found four guns in travelers' bags on a single morning. In 2020, airport officials found a total of 71 guns inside bags, putting the airport in the top 10 in the country for guns found at a checkpoint. Even if a traveler brings a gun by mistake, the fines can run several thousand dollars. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Challenges Of Reaching Herd Immunity

The rate of COVID-19 vaccinations has slowed considerably around the Mountain West, but most people are still unvaccinated in the region. Wyoming has the lowest vaccination rate in the region, with only about a third of residents having gotten at least one vaccine shot. Epidemiologists say areas with low rates of immunity could allow the virus to mutate into a more dangerous strain, which would make herd immunity much harder to achieve. About 43% of Utahns have gotten at least one vaccine shot, according to state data. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Fire Prevention Vs. Habitat Health At Yellowstone

The U.S. Forest Service has delayed a logging project meant to reduce the risk of fire and improve forest health just outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park. Opponents argued it would harm habitat for grizzly bears and other wildlife and would destroy the view for people hiking the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. The project called for scattered clearcuts and thinning to slow the spread of wildfire. Conservation groups filed a legal challenge to the project in April. Last week, the Custer Gallatin National Forest said it would delay the project until its new forest management plan is completed. — Associated Press

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