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PM News Brief: Merit Services Discrimination, Rare Comb Jellies Fossils & Pfizer Vaccine Approval

combjellies.jpg
Courtesy of Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University
Scientists are learning more about ancient comb jellies based on rare fossils recently discovered in Utah. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, Aug. 23, 2021

Northern/Central Utah

Merit Services Ordered To Pay Nearly $300,000 In Discrimination Case  

South Jordan based manufacturing company, Merit Services, has been ordered to pay nearly $295,000 in back wages as part of a hiring discrimination settlement. Merit makes disposable medical devices. From 2011 to 2013, it worked with the U.S. Navy. A federal investigation found during that time, Merit discriminated against nearly 1,700 male applicants for a production operator position. As part of the settlement, the company must also offer similar positions to 46 of the applicants as the jobs become available. Merit must also make sure its record keeping and internal audit procedures meet legal requirements. — Ross Terrell

Rare Comb Jellies Fossils Found In Utah 

Scientists are learning more about ancient comb jellies based on rare fossils recently discovered in Utah. Comb jellies are invertebrates that live in the ocean. They resemble jellyfish but are distinct animals. Since they have gelatinous bodies, fossils of them are rare. The two new species were found in the House Range mountains of West-Central Utah. One of them had a preserved nervous system. The new discoveries will allow scientists to better study the animal’s nervous system, sensory structures and diversity. — Caroline Ballard

State

Group Of Parents File Lawsuit Over State Law Banning School Mask Mandates

A group of parents filed a lawsuit Monday challenging Utah’s law that bans schools from issuing mask mandates, arguing it violates their children’s right to a healthy and safe public education. The 10 plaintiffs in the case, mostly parents with young and high-risk kids, say children with disabilities and pre-existing conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19 complications and, without universal mask wearing, they’re forced to make the “untenable and unconstitutional choice between keeping their children safe or sending them to school.” The attorney representing the parents said he just wants the ability for local school boards to make their own decisions. Read the full story. Jon Reed

Utah Three-Day COVID-19 Update 

Utah health officials reported more than 2,700 new COVID-19 cases Monday, but that’s a three-day total dating back to Friday. Over the past week, the state’s positivity rate and current hospitalizations have increased. There are currently 431 people in hospitals due to COVID. Officials reported 12 more people have died from the virus. One Davis County man was between the ages of 25 and 44 and was not hospitalized at the time of his death. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Full Federal Approval Given To Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccinel 

COVID-19 vaccination rates remain low in many parts of our region, especially Wyoming and Idaho. But public health officials are hoping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine will encourage those that are hesitant or unwilling. Mark Dowell, an infectious disease expert in Central Wyoming, expected the announcement to directly change some minds. But he said a bigger impact will come from more employers requiring vaccination now that it’s got full approval. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau 

Colorado City Asks Judge To End Consultant Service For Police 

Colorado City, a town in Arizona near the Utah border, is hoping to convince a federal judge that a consultant service for its police is no longer necessary. FOX-13 reports the town is asking for changes in a long-running lawsuit. It alleges discrimination in policing and government services by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. An attorney for the city said their police force has had a 100% turnover since 2017. Because of that, supervisors have no FLDS ties. But a court-appointed monitor suggests Colorado City hasn't changed much since a jury found it discriminated against non-members of the Church. — Associated Press