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PM News Brief: Local Government Jobs Lag, Salt Lake Extends COVID Emergency & Rockfall Closes Zion Trail

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Kent Kanouse
The popular hiking trail Riverside Walk in Zion National Park is closed because of an active rockfall. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Sept. 15, 2021


More Than 1,800 New COVID-19 Cases

The Utah Department of Health reported more than 1,885 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. 416 of those are in kids younger than 18. The seven-day case average has been rising steadily and currently stands at 1,677 daily cases. Another 11 people across Utah have died due to the disease — eight men and three women. Meanwhile, 95% of Utah’s ICU beds are currently occupied. — Elaine Clark

Lightning Accounts For Most Acreage Burned By Utah Wildfires

Wildfire activity was light last week in Utah with 40 new starts. So far this season there have been 1,058 fires equalling over 62,000 acres across the state. Most of that acreage burned as a result of lightning-caused fires. There are two active wildfires burning in Utah, and they’re mostly contained. The largest, the Legacy Fire, is over 1,400 acres. It was sparked by lightning last week in Davis County. The Oak Grove Fire started last month because of an abandoned campfire. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Follow KUER’s coverage of Utah’s 2021 Fire Season.

Legislative Committee Hears Complaints About Federal Vaccine Mandate

A group opposing vaccine mandates flooded a legislative committee meeting Wednesday, asking lawmakers to pass a bill that would ban the government from requiring businesses to mandate vaccines for their employees. President Joe Biden issued an executive order last week requiring businesses with staff of more than 100 people to ensure all employees are vaccinated or tested weekly. The crowd interrupted lawmakers several times with laughter, cheers and occasional outbursts. Sen. Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi, said he believed Biden's order was unconstitutional but that the state does not have the legal right to go against it. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

City Extends Emergency Declaration

The Salt Lake City council voted Tuesday night to extend Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s COVID-19 emergency declaration. It comes as the state sees a rise in cases. That vote also extended Mendenhall’s mask requirements in K-12 schools in Salt Lake City. Earlier this week, the mayor presented data that she said showed masks in schools are working. The city council will vote in another 30 days on whether to uphold the order. — Ivana Martinez

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Southern Utah

Rockfall Closes Zion Trail

The popular hiking trail Riverside Walk in Zion National Park is closed because of an active rockfall. The closure includes the Narrows. Riverside Walk is a paved trail along the Virgin River at the bottom of a steep canyon. The Narrows branches off of Riverside Walk. According to a park release, a young adult was caught in the slide Wednesday afternoon. The park said medics and a search and rescue team are helping extract the individual for potential transport to a hospital. In 2019, a rockfall in the park indefinitely closed the Weeping Rock trail and injured three visitors. — Caroline Ballard


Local Government Jobs Behind In Recovery

The Mountain West’s economy has made a comeback from the pandemic, but a new Pew Charitable Trusts report found that state and local government jobs in the region are down by about 3% compared to pre-pandemic levels. There are even steeper declines in Nevada and in New Mexico. Researchers said temporary layoffs and furloughed workers are a big part of that, but governments are also facing hiring hurdles. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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