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PM News Brief: Postponing Elective Surgeries, New Washington County Commissioner & DACA Distress

Photo illustration of a surgery
J PANA via flickr
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Dr. Kencee Graves, with University of Utah Health, said as cases surge, the U has once again postponed some elective surgeries. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, July 21, 2021

State

837 New COVID-19 Cases And Pausing Elective Surgeries

Utah health officials reported 873 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. It’s the most in a single day since mid-February. Dr. Kencee Graves, with University of Utah Health, said as cases surge, the U has once again postponed some elective surgeries. “We need to be able to create the capacity to take care of those that are critically ill,” Graves said. “So about half of my medical intensive care unit beds are full of patients that have COVID-19. Right now, 78% of ICU beds across the state are occupied by Covid patients. The Utah Department of Health also released a statement saying “We have the tool to end the disruption and inconvenience of COVID-19:” vaccinations. So far, a little more than 45% of all Utahns have been fully vaccinated. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

University Of Utah Names Three Finalists For President

The University of Utah has named three finalists in its search for the school’s next president. The Utah Board of Higher Education will consider Carrie Byington, Jayathi Murthy and Taylor Randall. Byington is the executive vice president for the University of California’s health system, Murthy is the dean of UCLA’s engineering school and Randall is the dean of the University of Utah’s Eccles School of Business. Former U President Ruth Watkins left her post this spring after three years on the job. The finalists will visit campus in-person on Aug. 4. Students, faculty and staff are invited to share their feedback on the candidates online or at the August visit. — Caroline Ballard

Rep. Craig Hall Appointed To Fill Court Vacancy

Rep. Craig Hall, R- West Valley City, has been appointed to Utah’s Second District Court. Hall has represented District 33 in the state Legislature since 2013. During this year’s General Session, he sponsored a number of bills related to criminal justice including a bill that would have limited the use of no-knock warrants. Hall currently works as legal counsel for Intermountain Healthcare. His appointment still needs confirmation from the state Senate. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

Lake Powell Water Levels Are Low. But That Won’t Stop Recreationists

Lake Powell’s water levels are near historic lows. As a result, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has had to fully and partially close several boat ramps. People who frequently recreate on the lake say getting on the water is more difficult. Though, lower water levels have also allowed them to see previously hidden sights. Lydia Karic went on a recent kayak trip and said the beaches she’d usually camp at are now unreachable. Dustin Fechner was on a houseboat at Lake Powell earlier this month. He said he had to travel further to get to an open ramp, but less water won’t stop him from going. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

Adam Snow Voted As Dean Cox’ Replacement

The Washington County Republican Party has chosen a new commissioner to lead the county. Adam Snow beat out 11 other candidates during voting Tuesday night. He’s the Southern Utah director for Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, R-UT. Snow will fill the seat previously held by Dean Cox who passed away earlier this month from cancer. Party members also elected Susan Lewis to be the new county clerk/auditor. She’s been working in the clerk’s office since 2016. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Regional Immigration Advocates Upset About Recent DACA Ruling

Immigration advocates in the West are upset about the recent federal ruling on DACA. It largely halts the immigration program and has profound impacts on people’s plans for the future. Advocates hope the ruling catalyzes federal lawmakers to provide a pathway to citizenship for the more than 40,000 Dreamers living in the Mountain West. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau