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PM News Brief: E-Cig Regulations, More Wild Horse Roundups & Hospitals Filling Up Again

Photo of a person holding an e-cigarette and exhaling vapor.
Lindsay Fox
/
Pixabay
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes wants more federal regulation on e-cigarettes. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Aug. 19, 2021

State

Utah’s Afghan Community Reacts To Taliban Takeover 

The Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan is hitting home for some members of Utah’s Afghan community. The extremist group has regained power after the U.S. withdrew its troops. Wali Arshad, owner of Afghan Kitchen in South Salt Lake, said he felt “hopeless and helpless” looking at the crisis in his home country. “I don't have any faith in the Taliban,” Arshad said. “They're going to destroy our country again.” Now, a resettlement agency in Utah said they’re ready to receive people fleeing from the country. Aden Batar with Catholic Community Services said what they need most is financial support to rehome refugees because housing costs are so high. Read the full story. Emily Means 

Utah’s Attorney General Wants More Federal Regulations For E-Cigs

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes wants more federal regulation on e-cigarettes. Reyes joined dozens of other attorneys general around the country in sending a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They’re asking the FDA to eliminate e-cig flavors that appeal to younger people and to limit nicotine levels in other products like gum and lozenges. Utah’s solicitor general sayid products from companies like JUUL are just as harmful as traditional cigarettes. However, the flavor makes them easy to like. — Ross Terrell

Utah COVID-19 Update: Hospitals Filling Up Again  

Hospitals across Utah are once again filling up as the state experiences a surge in new COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant with 87% of ICU beds in the state filled. During the first week of August, the more contagious strain accounted for nearly all new cases. Utah health officials reported 1,280 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. There were also 14 more deaths. Half of those were people younger than 65 and one man was between the ages of 25 and 44. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Spanish-Speaking Residents Left In The Dark During Fire Evacuations

The Parleys Canyon Fire forced residents in several communities in Summit County to evacuate last weekend. Community radio station KPCW in Park City reported the emergency alert sent out telling people to leave, was only in English. That left Spanish-speaking residents without clear information. Lt. Andrew Wright, with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, said that was a wakeup call. The Elk Meadows apartments — where most residents are Spanish-speaking — were the farthest point geographically from the fire’s origin to fall under the evacuation order. KPCW reported a bilingual alert system for emergency text messages is one solution that could be put into place the quickest. — Michelle Deininger, KPCW

Region/Nation

Chuck Sams Nominated To Lead National Park Service 

The Biden administration has nominated Chuck Sams to become the nation’s next National Park Service director. If confirmed, he would be the first Indigenous person to run the agency. Sams is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon. He also has a long history working for state and tribal governments as well as conservation organizations. Unlike some other recent National Park Service leaders, Sams does not have experience working for the agency, but supporters say that means he could bring some fresh ideas from the outside. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

Biden Administration Increasing Wild Horse Roundups

The Biden administration is planning to sharply increase wild horse roundups this year. The decision comes in the midst of a megadrought in the Mountain West region that’s been made worse by climate change. Federal land managers say there are too many horses for the taxed ecosystem to handle. Meanwhile, advocates say land managers are using the drought as an excuse. Instead, they argue the real reason for more roundups is to make way for cattle and grazing, which also affects the environment. — Associated Press