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AM News Brief: Fire Management, Masks Urged For Kids & Utah Brings Home A Silver Hat Trick

Hot show crew faces a fire along a forest road.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE / PUBLIC DOMAIN
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The U.S. Forest Service is changing the way it manages wildfires. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.

Monday morning, Aug. 9, 2021

State

Bad Year For Road Fatalities

Several fatal car accidents occurred over the weekend. The Utah Highway Patrol said it responded to five crashes that led to the deaths of six people on Saturday and Sunday. Highway Patrol said it’s still investigating the crashes, but noted impaired driving, inattentiveness and fatigue were the main causes. 2021 has been a particularly bad year for fatal accidents. So far, there have been 183 deaths this year compared to 143 fatalities in all of 2020. — Jon Reed

Pediatricians Urge Masks For Kids

The Utah Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging students to keep wearing masks as they head back to school. Doctors with the group said young kids can get serious complications from COVID-19, such as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome. For children who aren’t eligible for the vaccine, they said masks are a critical tool to stopping rising cases and continuing in-person learning. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that COVID-19 cases were 37% lower in schools that had staff members use masks. Children aged 14 or younger make up 11% of cases in Utah. — Ivana Martinez

Utah Strikes Silver

The 2021 Summer Olympics came to a close this weekend. The event had been delayed a year because of the pandemic and was unusually quiet due to the lack of spectators. Still, several Utahns came away with medals. University of Utah gymnast MyKayla Skinner won silver in the vault after Simone Biles withdrew from competition. Nathanial Coleman from Murray also won silver in the first-ever rock climbing competition, and Herriman-native Rhyan White placed second in the women’s 100 meter swimming relay. They helped the U.S. bring home 113 total medals — more than any other country. — Jon Reed

Deadline Approaching On Open Enrollment For Healthcare

The open enrollment period to sign up for a subsidized healthcare plan through the Affordable Care Act is ending Aug. 15. The window was expanded to help people who lost coverage during the pandemic. More than 30,000 Utahns have been enrolled so far, according to the Utah Health Policy Project. The healthcare advocacy group said almost half of those enrolled are paying $10 a month, and average deductibles have decreased by 83% since April. — Ivana Martinez

Northern Utah

Teachers Prepare For Worst Case Scenario

Some teachers feel they aren’t well prepared to handle an active shooter situation. The Utah County Sheriff’s Office is leading an academy aimed at making sure they’re ready to face those kinds of events. The course teaches skills like de-escalation tactics, medical techniques and how to shoot a gun. Sheriff Mike Smith said the 20-hour course isn’t meant to turn teachers into police officers, but to give them tools to handle a situation. “We don't want them to do our job,” Smith said. “What we're asking them to do is to follow the school's lockdown policies. If [they] get to their room before the police, [they] don't have to be a victim.Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Region/Nation

Stopping Fires Early

The U.S. Forest Service is changing the way it manages wildfires. Wildfires play a key ecological role and the agency’s fire management has reflected that — firefighters often monitor small fires rather than suppress them. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore recently told his staff the country is facing a national crisis and firefighters will focus on snuffing out the flames. The change comes after some western governors criticized the federal agency during a call with President Joe Biden. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau