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PM News Brief: Creating More National Parks, Financial Aid For Farmers & Covid Vaccination Milestone

A photo of bottles labeled with COVID-19 vaccine.
Daniel Schludi
More than half of all Utahns have been fully vaccinated against the virus. This story and more in the Thursday evening news brief.

Thursday evening, Sept. 9, 2021


Financial Assistance For Utah Farmers Harmed By The Drought 

Utah farmers and ranchers can soon get financial assistance if they’ve been negatively impacted by the drought. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food announced Thursday eligible people can apply for loans up to $100,000. Applications will be accepted from Sept. 13 until April 2022, or until the total fund of $5 million runs out. Nearly 90% of Utah is still experiencing extreme drought conditions, but the state’s situation has slightly improved recently. — Martha Harris 

Utah Cracks 2,000 Covid-19 Cases While Hitting Vaccination Milestone 

Utah health officials announced 2,165 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, marking the first time since late January that Utah has reported more than 2,000 Covid cases in a single day. Hospitalizations and the state’s week-long average of new cases are each up compared to a week ago, and 25 counties are in the high transmission level. Despite worsening case rates, Utah did hit a vaccination milestone. Now, more than half of all Utahns have been fully vaccinated against the virus. Still, officials reported 10 more people have died from Covid. Two of them were between the ages of 25 and 44 years old. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Mayor Pulls Support Over Emergency Homeless Shelter

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall will no longer support funding an overflow emergency homeless shelter facility in the neighborhood near the Bee’s baseball stadium. Mendenhall initially supported the idea to use state funds for the shelter, but she reversed course after finding out it was possible the state could expand another location in the city. In a release, she said asking Salt Lake City to support two more emergency shelters was unfair. The mayor also said Utah needs to first commit to funding mental health services, safety resources and a more fair distribution of shelter beds throughout the county and state. — Caroline Ballard

Utah County Hosts Town Hall On Election Integrity

The Utah County Clerk’s office hosted an election open house Wednesday night to address the skepticism around election integrity. Around 35 people attended seeking more information about the state’s mail-in-ballot process. The county’s clerk/auditor said while there’s always been some skepticism of voting by mail— last year’s presidential election made it even more prominent. Despite the concerns, nearly every voter who participated in the August primary elections did so by mail. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez


Establishing More National Parks In The U.S. 

Many national parks in the Mountain West region have seen huge crowds this summer. Now, federal lawmakers are considering what to do about overcrowding. One idea gaining traction is to create more national parks — an idea brought up at a Congressional hearing in July. Some support the idea since it would mean more protections for public lands. But others say adding more parks won’t make a place like Yellowstone any less appealing. The idea to establish more national parks isn’t new to the region. Twice before, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-UT, introduced legislation to establish a sixth national park Utah. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau 

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