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PM News Brief: Angela Dunn Honored, April Unemployment & Fighting The Opioid Epidemic

A photo of Angela Dunn at a podium.
Trent Nelson
/
The Salt Lake Tribune
Former state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn has received the 2021 Beatty Award from the Utah Public Health Association — their highest honor. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, May 21, 2021

State

Was The Walkout By State Democrats More Than Symbolic?

Earlier this week House Democrats left the floor before a vote on a resolution opposing critical race theory. It marked their latest protest to legislation. Two years ago senators walked off the floor before a vote on abortion. Jeff Merchant is the chair of the state’s Democratic Party. He said lawmakers use this tactic to take a stance on an issue. Matthew Burbank, a political scientist at the University of Utah, said since Democrats are in the minority in this state, walking off is a hollow threat. But it does shed more light on their stance against an issue. Read the full story.Ivana Martinez

Intermountain Health Officials Say Summer Is Key To Utah’s COVID-19 Situation

Summer is still a month away, but Utah health experts are already thinking about what the pandemic could look like when the fall rolls around. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease specialist with Intermountain Healthcare, said what happens when the weather heats up will determine the state’s COVID-19 situation later this year. He said this summer “is such an important opportunity for us as a community to keep our rates low and to increase our community vaccination rate.” Webb said that’s the only way to prevent having a spike in the fall. So far, more than 1.4 million Utahns have already received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. — Emily Means

Dr. Angela Dunn Receives Beatty Award From Utah Public Health Association

Former state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn has received the 2021 Beatty Award from the Utah Public Health Association — their highest honor. The association awarded Dunn for her work leading the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She has since left the position and will lead the Salt Lake County Health Department beginning next month. In a press release, Dunn said public health workers are the reason Utah is safe. She said she is proud to have represented them. — Ross Terrell

Utah’s April Unemployment Rate Less Than 3%

In April, Utah’s unemployment rate was just 2.8%. That’s based on data released Friday by the state’s Department of Workforce Services. Nationally, unemployment was slightly higher than 6%. State officials said over the past two years, Utah has returned and added 35,600 jobs. They said that’s an encouraging sign given the economic situation a year ago due to the pandemic. Since April 2019 the state’s professional business services and construction industries have added the most jobs. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Rocky Mountain Power Warns About Shutoff Due To Fire Conditions

Rocky Mountain Power is warning of a potential public safety, power shut off Friday for Cedar City. That’s because of high winds and fire weather conditions in the area. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for southwest and central Utah until 9 p.m. Saturday. Wind speeds could top 65 mph. RMP said electricity shut offs are to prevent fast-moving and hard to fight wildfires. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

National Prescribed Fire Act Introduced In Congress

The National Prescribed Fire Act of 2021 that was recently introduced Thursday aims to ramp up the number and the scale of controlled burns. The idea is to reduce hazardous fuels so that when fires do ignite, they’re not so hot and intense. It would also create a workforce development program to train and hire forestry workers for restoration and fire prevention. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Sen. Mitt Romney Sponsors Bipartisan Legislation To Combat Opioid Epidemics

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, has introduced bipartisan legislation to help states continue to manage the opioid epidemic. Romney joined Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, in sponsoring the LifeBOAT Act. It aims to increase access to substance abuse treatment. The legislation would create new treatment facilities. It would also provide more resources for programs that offer housing or jobs to people transitioning back into society. According to Romney’s office, more than 90,000 people nationwide died last year from drug overdose. — Ross Terrell

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