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PM News Brief: West Nile Death, Schools Versus Juul & Labor Day Quagga Mussels

A photo of a Juul in someone's palm.
Wikimedia Commons
Utah’s Canyons School District announced Wednesday it’s joined a mass-action federal lawsuit against the e-cigarette company Juul. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Sept. 8, 2021

State

Utah House Democrats Wants To Change State’s Pandemic Endgame Law 

Utah House Democrats are calling on Republicans to change the state’s pandemic “endgame” law which limits how local officials’ can address COVID-19. Case rates and ICU utilization are now far worse than the thresholds that triggered those changes. “This is first and foremost a public health issue,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City. “What we'd like to do at the legislative level is basically encourage our colleagues to get out of the way." Republican House Speaker Brad Wilson and Senate President Stuart Adams declined to comment. But Adams told the Salt Lake Tribune last week that the process set up by those laws is “working right now.” Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson 

Utah Sees Major Drop In Human-Caused Wildfires 

Human-caused fires in Utah dropped dramatically in July and August compared to the past two years. There have been a little more than 1,000 fires this year. Just over half of them are because of people. Last year at this time, around 75% were human-caused. Counties in Northern Utah and across the Wasatch Front lifted fire restrictions Wednesday because of recent rain and lower temperatures. There is only one large active fire currently burning in Utah and it’s mostly under control. The Oak Grove Fire in Washington County started last month because of an unattended campfire. It’s now 696 acres and 90% contained. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Labor Day Weekend Quagga Mussel Decontamination 

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officers inspected nearly 10,000 boats for quagga mussels over Labor Day weekend. They decontaminated 161 boats with the majority of those in the Lake Powell area. Quagga mussels are an invasive species. They can clog water lines, damage boats and remove plankton from water which is a food source for native fish in the region. During the Pioneer Day weekend, wildlife officials inspected more than 19,000 boats. About 450 were decontaminated. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Canyons School District Joins Lawsuit Against Juul 

Utah’s Canyons School District announced Wednesday it’s joined a mass-action federal lawsuit against the e-cigarette company Juul. The lawsuit alleges Juul downplayed the health risks of its products in marketing campaigns to minors. That’s led to an increase in vaping on school campuses. The district said it had 219 office referrals for e-cigarette use or possession in 2019. About 450 school districts across the country have joined the suit, including Tooele, Provo and Ogden. If successful, the plaintiffs could receive a total of $10 billion. The money could be used for education programs, counselors and other tools to prevent vaping. Last month, Utah’s attorney general signed on to a letter asking the federal government to enact tougher restrictions against the e-cigarette company. — Jon Reed

One Utahn Dead From West Nile Virus 

A Utahn in the Weber/Morgan Health District has died of West Nile Virus. It is the first death related to that virus this year. At least 11 people in northern Utah have contracted West Nile. Another five cases are pending confirmation. Most people who catch the virus don’t develop symptoms, but for those who do it can be serious. According to the state’s health department, this summer Utah is seeing the highest ever numbers of mosquitos carrying the virus. About 8% of traps have mosquitos who tested positive for West Nile. Health officials recommend taking precautions, like avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and down and wearing long sleeves and pants. — Caroline Ballard