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AM News Brief: Vaccine Mandate Protest, Choir Returns To Tabernacle & Romney Floats Colorado To Talk Drought

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Office of Sen. Mitt Romney.
Washington County resident Pat Jones addresses the Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission. This story and more in Monday morning's news brief.

Monday Morning, Sept. 20, 2021

Northern Utah

Public Protest Over Vaccine Mandate

About 100 people gathered to protest vaccine and mask mandates at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City on Saturday as part of a larger series of “Rally for Freedom” protests happening around the country. The Salt Lake Tribune reported many took issue with President Joe Biden’s executive order. It requires businesses with 100 or more workers to make sure their employees are vaccinated or tested weekly. Some people said they would rather quit their job, than get the vaccine. Several top Utah Republican officials have publicly opposed the rule. — Ivana Martinez

Voices Will Ring Through Tabernacle Again

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will restart rehearsals Tuesday after more than a year and a half on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the choir’s performers will be required to show proof of vaccination, and immunocompromised performers are being asked to stay home. As part of it’s plan, the organization will test performers and other workers before every rehearsal and performance. It will also require social distancing while performing and wearing masks while not performing. If the plan doesn’t work to limit the spread of covid, choir president Michael O. Leavitt said they’ll stop rehearsals again. Leavitt is former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and former Utah Governor. — Sonja Hutson

Southern Utah

Redistricting Has Unique Challenges In Rural Utah

Washington County is one of the fastest growing places in Utah, which means it will be getting more representation in the Legislature through the state's once-a-decade redistricting process. Utah’s Independent Redistricting Commission visited with community members in Washington City on Friday night. Christine Durham, who’s on the bipartisan commission, said southern Utah has unique challenges when it comes to redistricting: there are some cities with explosive growth and some areas that are much more rural. The Legislature’s redistricting committee will be holding public meetings in southwest Utah later this week. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, Washington City

Two Western Senators Talk Drought From River Float Trip

Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney and Democratic Colorado Senator Michael Bennett floated down part of the Colorado River near Moab on Saturday. They talked about ways to address droughts in the west that are being made worse by climate change. Romney and Bennett introduced a bill earlier this year to change the federal Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which responds to emergencies created by natural disasters. “The changing climate means that we are going to have to rethink how we solve the West’s water challenges,” Romney said. — Sonja Hutson

Grand Staircase-Escalante Celebrates Quarter Century

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah turned 25 years old on Saturday. Former President Bill Clinton established the 1.7 million acre monument in Utah’s Kane and Garfield counties in 1996. Members of the Bureau of Land Management held a two hour zoom celebration to commemorate the anniversary. Several guest researchers talked about different areas of science the monument has impacted including paleontology, geology and botany. BLM officials emphasized the importance of conservation efforts as they continue their work in the area. They say it has served as a “living laboratory for research and science.” — Ivana Martinez

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