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AM News Brief: COVID-19 Cases Surge, Watch Out For Flood Scams & Gut Fungi

Covid testing sign
Tricia Bobeda / KUER
Utah's daily COVID-19 case count eclipsed 1,000 for the first time in five months as officials reported 1,113 cases Thursday. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, July 30, 2021

State

Utah Municipalities Making Progress On Renewable Energy Project

Late in 2019, more than 20 local governments in Utah committed to transition to renewable energy by the end of the decade. More than a year later, officials involved have hammered out a governing agreement to manage the program and divided up the initial $700,000 investment. The project still has a long road ahead though, including approval from the Utah Public Service Commission and requests for proposals on specific renewable projects. Another major concern is how the program will impact utility rates. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Utah Cracks The 1,000 COVID-19 Case Ceiling

Utah's daily COVID-19 case count eclipsed 1,000 for the first time in five months as officials reported 1,113 cases Thursday. The recent surge has triggered concerns from state officials. The state's weekly positivity rate of more than 10.4% is also the highest since February. Gov. Spencer Cox called it "another step in the wrong direction" and renewed his plea for residents to get vaccinated. Children younger than 12 cannot get vaccinated yet but Cox said mask mandates for schools are not necessary now. He said he won't push to change a state law prohibiting mandates in individual districts. — Associated Press

Northern Utah

Gut Fungi And Your Immune System

Scientists at the University of Utah are learning about the interaction between fungi in your gut microbiome and your immune system. Researcher Kyla Ost told Science Friday about one yeast, called Candida, that’s found in most people’s guts. In one form, it’s linked to inflammatory bowel disease, but Ost said the fungi seem to change in reaction to the body’s immune response. The study points toward possible vaccines to boost these immune responses and lessen the severity of gastrointestinal disease. Read the full story.John Dankosky, Science Friday

Southern Utah

Beware Of Flood-Related Scams

Utah’s Better Business Bureau is warning people to beware of scams trying to take advantage of people after flooding. Some places in southern Utah like Cedar City and Springdale have experienced damaging flash floods in recent weeks. Cedar City and Iron County have declared states of emergency. When it comes to contracting businesses for cleanup work, the bureau said to watch out for high pressure tactics and door-to-door salesmen. Before natural disasters hit, it says people should have important files backed up and insurance information handy. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Governments Requiring Employees To Prove They Are Vaccinated

Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are spiking again across the Mountain West region. This is prompting tough new action from some state and federal officials. Nevada’s governor is planning to require all state employees to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing. President Biden is rolling out a similar proposal for all federal employees, which include roughly 160,000 workers in the Mountain West. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau