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PM News Brief: Juneteenth Flag Presented, Housing Prices Jump & May Unemployment

Photo of houses in Salt Lake City.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
Salt Lake City home prices jumped 31% over the last year. This story and more in the Friday evening news brief.

Friday evening, June 18, 2021

Northern Utah

Sen. Mitt Romney Introduces Wildfire Legislation In Draper

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT announced legislation Friday in Draper to address the country’s wildfire policies. His bill would create a commission tasked with recommending ways to mitigate and manage wildfires. It would include people from federal, state and local agencies that will look into forest management, the finances of fighting fires and long-term solutions. Romney said the extreme fire danger and drought across the West is raising awareness of the issue. The bill still has to make its way through Congress. In the meantime Romney encouraged Utahns to do their part to cut down on human-caused fires. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery

Salt Lake County Presentes Juneteenth Flag To African American Community

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson presented the Juneteenth flag to Black community members on Friday, the day after President Joe Biden declared June 19th a federal holiday. The date marks the end of slavery in the United States. Wilson said there’s still work to be done and one of her goals is to continue moving towards equality. “Salt Lake County also acknowledges the continuing struggle of Black Americans in society,” she said. “That is still ripe with racism, social, and criminal injustice and inequality.” Celebrations across Utah will begin on Saturday. This year’s events come amid the nationwide debate over Critical Race Theory’s role in schools, which lawmakers in Utah have yet to outright ban. — Ivana Martinez

Two Recreation Deaths This Week. A Reminder To Be Safe

Two people died this week while recreating in Utah. On Wednesday, Salt Lake County Search and Rescue found the body of a 68-year-old hiker. Officers said Jed Homer was hiking with a friend down Mount Raymond in Big Cottonwood Canyon. He slipped and fell 400 feet and suffered severe head trauma. On Thursday, a 17-year-old is believed to have drowned at Deer Creek State Park. Rangers say Fernando Arredondo was playing in the water and went under and didn’t resurface. He was not wearing a life jacket at the time. Law enforcement involved in both cases offered their condolences to the surviving family members. — Ross Terrell

Major Jump In Salt Lake City Housing Prices

Salt Lake City home prices jumped 31% over the last year. As prices climb, the Salt Lake Tribune reported real estate agents in the area are denouncing the dire lack of homes on the market. Salt Lake County's median price for a single-family home passed $500,000 sometime in March. Last month, it was up to $535,000. The Salt Lake Board of Realtors said average new home listings now draw 30 to 40 offers and sell in as little as five days. The board said more construction is desperately needed to fill the gap. — Associated Press

UDOT Says Plan For Closures And Traffic This Weekend

If you’re heading out on Utah’s highways and interstates this weekend, the state’s Department of Transportation says to expect traffic because of construction. The biggest delays are predicted for I-215 West in Salt Lake County. The road will narrow to two lanes between 4700 South and 5400 South. Two lanes on I-15 northbound near Salt Lake City will also be closed for pavement repairs. I-80 westbound near Tooele could see some delays as well. Up-to-date road conditions can be found at UDOTtraffic.utah.gov. — Caroline Ballard

State

Utah Adds Nearly 40,000 Jobs Since 2019

Utah’s unemployment rate remained relatively unchanged from April to May, falling slightly to 2.7%. The national rate was just under 6%. State officials said this is a sign that Utah’s economy is recovering from the past year. Over the last two years, Utah has actually added nearly 40,000 jobs. Construction saw the second largest percent growth over that time, trailing only the financial activities industry. But, the leisure and hospitality sector is still suffering and saw a decline in nearly 9,000 jobs since 2019. A large part of that is due to decreased travel because of the coronavirus pandemic. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

How Tweets Have Correlated COVID-19 Outbreaks

New research shows that partisan, anti-science tweets came ahead of COVID-19 surges in the Mountain West. A University of Southern California study showed surges in anti-science and partisan tweets coming before COVID-19 outbreaks in states like Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. The findings can’t help predict exactly where future outbreaks will happen, but can help explain how we can spread helpful science in a way that avoids politicization. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau