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PM News Brief: Non-Emergency Surgeries Postponed, Grand County Masks In Schools & BYU Joins Big 12

BYUCelebration.jpg
Brian Grimmett
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BYU announced Friday it will join the Big 12 Conference in two years. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, Sept. 10, 2021

State

Intermountain Healthcare Postpones Non-Emergency Surgeries

Intermountain Healthcare announced Friday it will postpone many non-emergency surgeries starting Sept. 15. The decision comes as health care workers are overwhelmed by another surge in COVID-19 cases. Those are in large part due to the Delta variant. Nearly 92% of beds in Utah’s intensive care units are occupied. Healthcare and elected officials have recently made emotional pleas for people to get vaccinated and to wear masks to help slow the spread of the virus. Utah health officials announced 2,189 new COVID cases Friday. — Associated Press & Ross Terrell

Sen. Mike Lee Files Amicus Brief In Religious Freedom Case

Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Friday. Lee and 11 other senators are asking SCOTUS to protect religious education institutions from discrimination. The brief is part of a case involving the state of Maine. The issue at heart is a state law that stops students from using a generally available student aid program to go to religious schools. In a press release, Lee said “students should not be punished for attending a school where faith is taught.” He went on to say states shouldn’t be able to discriminate against students who want to live and learn their faith in school. A date for the hearing has not yet been set. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Grand County Students Required To Wear Masks For Next 30 Days

Grand County High School has been closed this week due to an outbreak of COVID-19. Nine teachers and one member of the administrative team tested positive for the virus. When students return to the classroom Monday they’ll have to wear masks. Superintendent Taryn Kay told community radio station KZMU they just didn't have enough teachers to keep the school open. On Tuesday, the Southeast Utah Health Department and Grand County Commission passed a pre-K-12 mask mandate that's in effect for the next 30 days. Kay said the school district, health department, hospital and county commission were all in agreement that a temporary mandate is the way to go. The situation will be reevaluated at the end of the 30-day period. — Molly Marcello, KZMU

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Sees Spike In Unhealthy Air Days 

It’s been a smoky summer on the Wasatch Front. A KUER analysis of federal data found there were 50% more days this June and July when air quality was “unhealthy for sensitive groups” or worse. Wildfire smoke can lead to health issues like burning eyes, a runny nose and bronchitis. Utah DEQ advises people to limit time outside to prevent these health issues, but not everyone can afford to. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson 

BYU Set To Join Big 12 Conference 

Brigham Young University athletics will have a new home in the near future. BYU announced Friday it will join the Big 12 Conference in two years. The Cougars are an independent football team but its other sports compete in the West Coast Conference. The university will owe the WCC $500,000 when it leaves at the end of the 2022-23 season according to The Athletic. The decision to invite BYU and three other schools to the Big 12 was unanimous among voting members in the conference. The move comes after the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma announced they’d be leaving to join the SEC. BYU football faces the University of Utah Saturday night in Provo. Tickets are sold out and kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. — Ross Terrell