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AM News Brief: Slight Uptick In Vaccines, Pharmacist Cheats On Vaccine Cards & Improvements Slated For State Parks

Utah State Parks
Utah State Parks saw record-breaking numbers in visitors last year. Now, with funds approved by the state Legislature, the Utah Department of Natural Resources is planning improvements to parks around the state. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, July 16, 2021


The Economic Case For Immigration Reform

Some Utah business leaders and conservative politicians are making a case for immigration. The group joined immigration advocates at the World Trade Center in Salt Lake City Wednesday to urge Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, to pass bipartisan legislation on immigration reform. Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, said immigrants can help bolster the Utah workforce as the state comes out of the pandemic. “Immigrants play a vital role in the Utah economy,” he said. “They help fill in many of those essential roles where we need more people and where we have a high demand for jobs.” Read the full story. Leer en español. — Ivana Martinez

Slight Uptick In Utah’s Vaccinations

Utah’s COVID-19 vaccination rate is increasing slightly. On average, there are about 700 more vaccines being administered each day than there was roughly a week ago. Gov. Spencer Cox said that’s likely because cases are rising, and people see it’s time to get the vaccine. Utah health officials reported 693 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. That’s the highest number since March 17 — a week before the vaccine was made available to all Utahns 16 years and older. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Improvements Coming To State Parks

Utah State Parks saw record breaking numbers in visitors last year. Now, with funds approved by the state Legislature, the Utah Department of Natural Resources is planning improvements to parks around the state. $83 million will go to projects like more campgrounds, parking and amenities. Antelope Island is getting a new campground with 40 partial hookup sites, and a beach at Jordanelle Reservoir is being expanded. Overall, these changes are expected to bring one thousand new parking spots and five hundred campsites to 14 state parks. Another $36.5 million will be used to create new state parks in Grand and Morgan Counties. — Tess Roundy

Northern Utah

Pharmacist Penalized For Fraudulent Vaccine Cards

A Utah pharmacist has been stripped of his license and fined after admitting that he gave people COVID-19 vaccination cards without administering the vaccine. The Salt Lake Tribune reported the pharmacist said he was giving six reluctant patients what he called a choice. In one case, surveillance video showed him taking a vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from a refrigerator, recording the manufacturer’s lot number on the vaccine card and giving the card to the patient — but he did not prepare a syringe or administer the vaccine. He told investigators had done the same about five other people when he believed they were apprehensive. — Associated Press


Emergency Water Heading To Lake Powell

Emergency water releases from reservoirs upstream of Lake Powell began Thursday to preserve its ability to generate hydroelectric power. The Bureau of Reclamation started releasing additional water from Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming, and additional releases from Blue Mesa in Colorado and Navajo in New Mexico are planned for later this year. Lake Powell is projected to hit a record low this month, with emergency releases possibly lasting until December. A federal shortage declaration in the river’s lower basin is expected next month. Read the full story. — Luke Runyon, KUNC

Federal Fire Agency On Highest Alert

Severe wildfires across the West have prompted the nation’s top fire agency to increase its preparedness level to the highest and most critical stage. The National Interagency Fire Center set its preparedness level to 5 on Wednesday night, the earliest the agency has done so in a decade. This means that at least 80% of the federal government’s fire personnel are actively fighting wildfires right now. There are currently almost 60 large, uncontained blazes burning across the country. The fires are being driven by excessive heat, high winds and deepening drought, though a heavy monsoon season is helping tamp down wildfires across much of the Southwest. Read the full story. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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