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PM News Brief: Indigenous Boarding School, COVID-19 Delta Variant & Utah Traffic Increase

Traffic on Utah highway.
Istock.com / wsfurlan
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Utah has had one of the biggest increases in the country over the last 20 years in the number of miles that vehicles traveled on its freeways. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, June 22, 2021

State

COVID-19 Delta Variant In Utah

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Utah. Health officials say a lot of the recent cases are being caused by the new Delta variant — which originated in India. It is more contagious than earlier strains and can cause more serious illnesses. Stephen Goldstein, with the University of Utah’s School of Medicine, said “It's important to understand that if you choose not to get vaccinated, ultimately there is a very high likelihood that you will become infected” with the Delta variant. He said it will likely become the dominant strain in Utah. Health officials say vaccines protect against all known variants of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 10% of all new cases in the country are caused by the Delta strain. — Tess Roundy

Utah House Democrats Call For Special Session To Deal With Fireworks

Utah House Democrats called for a special Legislative session Tuesday to give local governments more control over fireworks. But in a tweet Monday, Republican House Speaker Brad Wilson said he didn’t think a session on fireworks was necessary. He said the state Legislature has already “taken steps to empower” local leaders to decide what works for their communities. He said that’s preferable to a statewide ban. Utah statute lets cities ban fireworks in some areas, but generally not citywide. Gov. Spencer Cox has said he would ban them if he could, but he doesn’t have the authority. — Emily Means

Utah Sees Huge Jump In Traffic On Its Highways

Utah has had one of the biggest increases in the country over the last 20 years in the number of miles that vehicles traveled on its freeways. That’s according to an analysis released Tuesday by the transportation research nonprofit TRIP. It’s based on a report the group presented to Congress in 2019. The number of miles vehicles traveled on Utah interstates increased nearly 60% over the past two decades — the fourth largest jump in the country behind Nevada, Louisiana and North Carolina. The report also found about half of urban freeways in the state are congested during peak hours. That’s the 19th highest rate in the U.S. California ranked number one in this category. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Meagan Grunwald Sentenced To Up To 30 Years In Prison

A Utah woman was sentenced Monday for her involvement in the death of a police officer when she was a teenager. Meagan Grunwald will serve up to 30 years in prison. She had originally been sentenced to up to life in prison for her role as a getaway driver in the killing of Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride, but the state Supreme Court overturned that conviction. Grunwald's boyfriend fired the shots that killed Wride. She said her much-older boyfriend forced her to drive during the multi-county chase in 2014. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Addressing The Dark Legacy Of Indigenous Boarding Schools

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced a framework Tuesday for addressing the legacy of the Indian Boarding School era that stretched into the second half of the 20th century. Speaking before tribal leaders, Haaland said her department will investigate the full scope of harm done by the government-run schools where Indigenous children were abused and stripped of their culture. “The Interior Department was responsible for operating the Indian boarding schools across the United States and its territories,” she said. “We are therefore uniquely positioned to assist in the effort to recover the dark history of these institutions that have haunted our families for too long.” Earlier this month, an unmarked, mass-grave containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children was discovered at the site of a residential school in British Columbia. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau