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PM News Brief: Record Setting Heat, Low Wildfire Activity & UTA Late Night Service

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SLC International Airport
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Data from the National Weather Service of Salt Lake City show the airport tied it’s warmest summer on record dating back to 1874. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Sep. 1, 2021

State

Gov. Spencer Cox Walking Political Tightrope With Statements On Masks

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox cast doubt on the effectiveness of masks in the fight against COVID-19 Tuesday, while also encouraging people to wear them. Dr. Emily Spivak, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Utah, said the science on masks is clear: they work. She also said Cox’s statement was demoralizing to the healthcare and public health community. University of Utah political scientist Phillip Singer said right now, the governor is trying to walk a political tightrope. “Gov. Cox is cognizant of that tension between working to reduce hospitalizations while at the same time not angering his base, as well as the elected officials that he's going to need to work with,” he said. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson 

Utah Sees Highest COVID-19 Total Since Late January 

Utah state health officials reported 1,685 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. That is the most new cases reported in a single day since late January, at the tail end of the winter surge. Hospitals are feeling the load, too as 88% of all ICU beds around the state are full right now. Officials reported six more people have died of the disease. One man was between the ages of 25 and 44. So far, 49.4% of all Utahns have been fully vaccinated. — Caroline Ballard

Wildfire Activity Remains Low In Utah 

Wildfire activity in Utah has been light recently as restrictions are lifted in parts of the state. Fire officials reported 45 new starts in the past week. That brings the season total to 1,001. Human-caused starts make up just over half of those. One fire this week started in Washington County because of an unattended campfire. It’s since grown to 696 acres and is now 10% contained. Monsoonal moisture is expected to keep fire activity down in the coming days. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Northern Utah

UTA Ending Its Late Night On Demand Service In Salt Lake City

Utah Transit Authority’s late-night on demand service is coming to an end in Salt Lake City this weekend. UTA announced Wednesday the pilot project in Salt Lake will wrap up Saturday night. It’s been running Thursday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. since Memorial Day weekend. The transit authority says next, it will survey riders to learn more about how they used the service — that could be taking it to work or using it to go to a concert or event. The service cost riders $2.50 for one way fare. UTA on demand will remain a permanent service in southern Salt Lake County. — Ross Terrell

Salt Lake City Airport Ties Record For Hottest Summer 

It’s no secret this summer has been a hot one in Northern Utah. In fact, it’s been record-setting. Data from the National Weather Service of Salt Lake City show the airport tied it’s warmest summer on record dating back to 1874. Temps at the airport averaged 80.9 degrees this year. That’s the same as the summer of 2017. Salt Lake’s airport has been experiencing a heatwave since the 2000s as nine of the 10 hottest summers recorded there have come since 2003. — Ross Terrell

Central/Southern Utah

Rural Vaccination Rates On The Rise

More rural people are getting vaccinated as cases and deaths from the Delta variant of COVID-19 continue to surge across the West. Vaccination rates have increased by two-thirds over the past month. That’s according to CDC data analyzed by the nonprofit Daily Yonder. It found that many rural counties are still lagging behind the national average but some are closing the gap. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau