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AM News Brief: COVID-19 Cases Rising, Near Drowning At Pineview & Red Flag Laws Address Gun Violence

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Utah public health officials reported 633 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, and cases are still on the rise. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, June 28, 2021

State

Utah Democrats Re-elect Party Chair

Utah Democratic Party Chair Jeff Merchant won re-election on Saturday after more than two-thirds of delegates voted to give him a second term. In his victory speech, Merchant said Utah is on its way to turning bluer like nearby states have, too. “The Republican Party, they're scared,” he said. “It's time for us to move upwards and onwards as a united party to build on the foundation of the past two years to an even stronger future.” Merchant beat out Daniel Hicken for the job. Hicken was previously the Utah County Democratic Party Chair. Delegates also elected Diane Lewis as the new vice chair and Jill Fellow as the new secretary. Sheila Srivastava won re-election as treasurer. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise

Utah public health officials reported 633 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, and cases are still on the rise. There have been an average of 335 new cases each day over the past week, up from 294 a week ago. Fifty-four percent of Utahns above the age of 12 are fully vaccinated. Health officials also announced 12 more people have died from the disease, though 10 of them happened before May 27. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Near Drowning At Pineview Reservoir

A 25-year-old man is in critical condition after he nearly drowned at Pineview Reservoir in Weber County Sunday. The Weber County Sheriff’s office said the man got into the water after his brother went under the surface. Others nearby pulled his brother out, who did not drown, then bystanders then realized the victim had not resurfaced. By the time they rescued the victim, he had been underwater for about 10 minutes. He was airlifted to the hospital after successful life-saving efforts. A string of at least four drownings at Utah reservoirs in early June prompted officials to urge people to wear life jackets while recreating in any large body of water. — Sonja Hutson

Region/Nation

New Study Finds Red Flag Laws Key

Opponents of red flag gun laws say they violate constitutional rights, but in a new study, legal scholars refute that argument. Three states in the Mountain West — Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico — have red flag laws on the books. They allow courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. Jennifer Pomeranz of New York University led the study, and said red flag laws do not violate due process and are a key tool in addressing gun violence. But some states have enacted legislation to preemptively ban local red flag laws. Pomeranz sees that as a possibility in states like Montana and Wyoming which have preemptively banned other gun control measures. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau