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AM News Brief: Warmer Winter, Intermountain Merger & Utah AG “Ready To Fight” Vaccine Mandate

A photo of the Intermountain Alta View Clinic building.
Wikimedia Commons
Intermountain Healthcare is planning on merging with SCL Health, a Colorado-based healthcare system. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, Sept. 17, 2021

State

Attorney General “Ready To Fight” Federal Vaccine Mandate

Utah’s Attorney General has joined 23 other states to oppose President Joe Biden’s employee vaccine mandate. Last week, the president announced businesses with 100 or more workers have to make sure their employees are vaccinated or tested weekly. Attorney General Sean Reyes signed onto a letter Thursday that argues the policy is unconstitutional and doesn’t take into account things like telecommuting options. Reyes said he’s ready to fight “all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.” — Elaine Clark

Intermountain Looks To New Merger

Intermountain Healthcare is planning on merging with SCL Health, a Colorado-based healthcare system. The CEOs of both organizations announced at a press conference Thursday they’ve signed a letter of intent to merge. The new organization will have clinics in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Montana and Kansas. Leaders said the goal is to close the deal in early 2022. Intermountain had previously planned a merger with Sanford Health in 2020, but that deal fell through last December. — Martha Harris

Northern Utah

Last Conviction In Police Car Burning Case

Christopher Rojas pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to civil disorder for burning a Salt Lake City police car last year. The incident took place as part of the May 30 protest for racial justice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The patrol car was flipped over and burned in downtown Salt Lake. Rojas and four others have now been convicted. The 29-year-old faces five years in prison and $2,500 in restitution. He is in home confinement until his sentencing, currently set for Nov. 24. — Elaine Clark

Forgeries At The Museum

Two Brigham Young University researchers have uncovered several suspected forgeries in one of the school’s museum collections. Recent BYU graduate Chloe Burkey helped identify and examine more than 190 figurines from BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures. She looked for forgeries among the tiny axes, beads and figurines, and helped create a cost-effective way for museums to authentic items in their own collection. She said forged artifacts can lead archaeologists to new information about old craftsmanship. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Region/Nation

Expect A Warmer, Drier Winter

Drought remains widespread across the Southwest, even after a wet monsoon season. Parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah got double or triple the expected amount of rain through the middle of the summer, but it wasn’t enough to fend off historic levels of drought. That’s left many reservoirs far lower than usual, and increases the risk of wildfire, threatens hydropower generation and harms wildlife and agriculture. Forecasters expect drought in the Southwest to persist for at least a few months, and predict hotter than normal temperatures and lower than normal snow and rain through the end of the year. — Alex Hager, KUNC

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