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AM News Brief: Helping Refugees In Utah, Firefighters Head To California & Call For State Board Of Education Resignation

Photo of a wildfire response vehicle approaching flames.
Utah Fire Info
More Utah firefighters are heading to California to help battle the massive Dixie Fire. This story and more in the Thursday morning news brief.

Thursday morning, Aug. 26, 2021


COVID-19 Cases Highest Since February

Utah reported 1,585 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, the highest number of daily cases since Feb. 3. Nearly a quarter of those were school-aged children. The Utah Department of Health said people who are unvaccinated are 5 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than people who have gotten the shot. The state also reported another 12 Utahns have died due to the coronavirus. Three of them were between the ages of 25 and 44. — Elaine Clark

FDA Approval Of Pfizer Vaccine Opens Mandate Path For Utah State Agencies

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine approval for non-emergency use. The Utah Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that prohibited government agencies from issuing a mandate for the “Emergency COVID-19 vaccine.” The bill’s sponsor, Utah Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, said it no longer applies and it's now considered “like any other vaccine in the state” and governments can mandate it.” Although it can be required, exceptions could be provided for religious, medical and personal reasons. Though universities may now issue a mandate for Pfizer, not many will immediately. One representative from Dixie State University said they’re assessing the situation. Read the full story. Ivana Martinez

Utah Preparing For Refugee Resettlement

Gov. Spencer Cox has underscored the state’s willingness to accept Afghan refugees. In a press release Wednesday, he said officials don’t know when or how many will be resettled in Utah, but he said the work will be coordinated through Catholic Community Services and the International Rescue Committee. Cox wrote a letter to President Joe Biden last week saying Utah would accept Afghan refugees. Since then, he said the state has seen an outpouring of support from people wanting to help. Cox said the best way to do that is through one of those two agencies, both of which are federally contracted to provide resettlement services. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

Call For State Board Of Education Resignation

Utah Democrats are calling for the resignation of State Board of Education member Natalie Cline. She recently posted on social media about an LGBTQ flag displayed at Layton High School’s seminary, writing “It’s time to make some calls.” Cline has been a vocal critic of displays highlighting queer students and efforts to address racial equity in schools. The state Democrats said her post was politicizing and damaging the education of LGBTQ students. In a statement, the state board of education said it was reviewing the post for potential violations and that the comments do not reflect the board’s position on any matter. This is the third time board leadership has addressed Cline’s social media posts. — Jon Reed

Utah Firefighters Head To California

More Utah firefighters are heading to California to help battle the massive Dixie Fire. Nineteen firefighters, five engines and two command vehicles from northern Utah agencies are part of the task force deployment. Utah's Division of Emergency Management said most members depart this Thursday morning and will rendezvous with others already there. The Dixie Fire has been burning since July 13. It’s the biggest in California's history, burning more than 735,000 acres. This is Utah’s sixth mission this year as part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a mutual aid agreement between states that allows for the sharing of resources. — Pamela McCall

Fatal Police Shooting In Provo

Police in Provo said they fatally shot a 48-year-old man who fired a gun at officers Tuesday night. A spokesman said officers tried to pull a car over earlier in the evening, but the driver sped away. They said they didn’t give chase, but found the car parked in west Provo just before 10 p.m. Police said the man fired at officers as they tried to make contact with him in his car and they fired back. He was pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later. The shooting is being investigated by the Utah County Officer-Involved Critical Incident Team. — Elaine Clark

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