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AM News Brief: Cockfighting Rings Uncovered, COVID Testing Drops & Hiking Accident Ends In Tragedy

Photo of Wasatch Front
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Two people died while recreating in the Wasatch last week. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, May 24, 2021

State

Fireworks And The Drought

Fireworks are banned in Utah until July 2, but state and local leaders are already making plans for the summer holidays. Gov. Spencer Cox discussed drought conditions across the state at a recent press conference and was asked about fireworks restrictions. He said the state will consider them as the holidays get closer and said it depends on the “rain situation.” This year will mark the first time people can light fireworks at city parks in St. George. City Fire Chief Robert Stoker said he hopes it will cut down on the number of people doing them illegally. Fireworks are only allowed over the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day holidays, on New Years Eve and Chinese New Year. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

COVID Cases Falling

Utah’s weeklong average of daily new COVID-19 cases has fallen to 274 from more than 300 a week ago. Health officials have announced a total of 793 cases since Friday. Hospitalizations are also down from a week ago, while the state’s positivity rate has remained steady. One more person died from the virus over the weekend. — Ross Terrell

Closing Gap On Vaccinations For Minority Communities

So far, nearly 1.45 million Utahns have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. White people are still the most vaccinated demographic as more than half of the population has received at least one shot. That number is lower for people of color, though the Asian community has the second-highest percentage. Gov. Spencer Cox said minority communities are starting to catch up. “So we're making great progress there,” Cox said. “But we do still have quite a ways to go and we're pushing those vaccinations out to more local areas and to more community centers.” In order to help that effort, any business or organization can request a free COVID-19 mobile vaccine clinic. — Ross Terrell

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

Major Testing Center Closes As Demand Plummets

Salt Lake County is shutting down its COVID-19 testing site at the Maverik Center at the end of this week due to a decrease in demand. At its peak in November, health officials were testing 1,200 people a day. Now they said they’re only testing 85. Since last June, more than 30,000 thousand tests were performed at the location. Staff working at the Maverik Center site will be reassigned to help in the vaccination effort and assist with other public health needs. The county said it will still use mobile testing clinics to help get a handle on outbreaks if necessary. A list of testing locations is available at coronavirus.utah.gov. — Ross Terrell

Hiking Accidents Claim Lives In Wasatch

Law enforcement found the body of a missing hiker reported in Little Cottonwood Canyon late last week. The Unified Police Department says 31-year-old Brent Rane of Salt Lake City was hiking down the Mount Superior trail in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. He apparently slipped, fell and hit his head. Detective Ken Hansen said that Rane started his hike around 2:30 p.m. and called some family members around 7:50 p.m. to say he was descending the trail. Police said Rane was reported missing and his body was found hours later. Salt Lake County Search and Rescue reported a second death on Saturday near the West Slabs of Mount Olympus. — Associated Press

Second Cockfighting Ring Discovered

Authorities in Utah County said they uncovered a second cockfighting ring just six days after finding another one. The Utah County Sheriff's Office said 35 people were arrested or cited May 15 for participating in a sophisticated cockfighting operation. Deputies found 24 dead roosters and seized 15 live birds from the location. Sgt. Spencer Cannon said the fighting ring was discovered near Utah Lake in a desolate area in Cedar Valley about 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. Deputies discovered the first operation on May 10 and found dozens of baby chickens. They do not believe the two incidents are related. — Associated Press