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PM News Brief: Colorado River Cuts, Tribal Infrastructure & Vaccines For Latter-day Saints

Washington Post Columnist David Von Drehle recently wrote about the drought gripping the west. Von Drehle says states that rely on the Colorado River face a dire situation, but there are reasons to be hopeful.
Romain Guy
Creative Commons
Next week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to declare the first-ever mandatory cuts from the Colorado River. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Aug. 12, 2021


Utah’s “Quiet” Fire Season … So Far

Utah has been in a historic drought but this summer fire season has been “quieter” than in recent years. Storms over the last month in southern Utah have brought significant rain to the area, which has dampened fire activity. Nanette Hosenfeld, a meteorologist with the Great Basin Coordination Center, said despite moisture in the south, fires in other parts of the state could pick up later this month and into September. Kayli Yardley, with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said people should continue to pay attention to fire restrictions across the state. So far this year, there have been 470 fires started by people — that’s a nearly 40% drop compared to this time last year. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Urges Members To Get Vaccinated

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a message Thursday urging its members to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Church also asked members to wear face masks in public whenever social distancing isn’t possible. Leaders called the ongoing situation a “unrelenting pandemic.” Still, they offered a tone of optimism saying we can win this war against the virus. Only if everyone follows the “thoughtful recommendations of medical experts and government leaders.” — Ross Terrell

Back-To-Back Days Of More Than 1,000 COVID-19 Cases

Utah health officials reported more than a thousand COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row. Thursday’s total — 1,243. Vaccination rates continue their slow climb upwards. A little more than 47% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated. New data from the Utah Department of Health shows unvaccinated people are nearly 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who have gotten the vaccine. As for health levels, 18 counties are still in the high transmission index. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Votes Down School Mask Mandate

In a 6-3 decision, the Salt Lake County Council voted Thursday against a mask mandate in schools. County Health Director Angela Dunn asked for one earlier this week. She said a mandate would help protect younger kids not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Council member Laurie Stringham said voting against the mandate was a tough choice. “What I see is the most minimal disruption to these kids for both their health and their wellness and their mental health,” Stringham said. In a statement, Dunn said it was not the result she hoped for. Salt Lake City’s mayor criticized the vote saying it puts kids at risk and the city is “evaluating its options.” — Jon Reed


$15 Billion Included In U.S. Infrastructure Bill For Tribal Needs

The Senate’s sweeping bipartisan infrastructure bill includes big investments in Indian Country. In its current form, the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act includes more than $15 billion for tribal infrastructure projects. That money will bolster reservation water, transportation and healthcare systems and help get more Indigenous households connected to the internet. During a meeting of the National Congress of American Indians, tribal leaders called the investment overdue. But many said it could have a sweeping impact on reservations across our region. The bill is now headed to the U.S. House of Representatives, where it may not receive a vote for weeks if not months. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Mandatory Cuts Coming For Colorado River Usage

Next week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to declare the first-ever mandatory cuts from the Colorado River. The Colorado River has been a go-to source of water for cities, tribes and farmers in the U.S. West for decades, but climate change, drought and increased demand are taking a toll. Key reservoirs are falling to historic lows and two reservoirs in Utah are now completely dry — the Upper Enterprise and the Gunnison reservoirs. The cuts will begin in 2022. — Associated Press

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