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PM News Brief: Minority Health Outcomes, Ute Tribe Water Lawsuit & COVID Misinformation Crackdown

An illustration of diverse people in protective masks.
Jenny On The Moon
The Salt Lake County Health Department received a two-year, $3.8 million grant to improve health outcomes for minorities. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Sept. 22, 2021


Utah Human-Caused Wildfires Are On A Positive Decline  

Half of the wildfires in Utah so far this year have been human-caused. That may sound bad but it’s actually an improvement compared to the past two years. By this time last year, about three-quarters of fires in Utah were because of people. So far this fire season, more than 63,000 acres have burned in the state and there have been 1,084 total fires. But 93% of all starts have been caught at 10 acres or less. Because of decreased fire activity and more resources being available, the National Wildfire Preparedness Level has gone down from the highest level. — Lexi Peery

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Receives Federal Grant To Improve Minority Health Outcomes

The Salt Lake County Health Department received a two-year, $3.8 million grant to improve health outcomes for minorities. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Salt Lake County said it will use the funds to improve health literacy. Officials say a lack of knowledge is directly tied to lower screening and vaccination rates and a greater use of emergency care. County Mayor Jenny Wilson said in a press release the COVID-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear that there were gaps in serving the needs of minority populations. Communities of color have consistently lagged behind white people when it comes to receiving the COVID vaccine. — Ross Terrell

Federal Judge Dismisses Bulk Of Claims In Ute Tribe Water Lawsuit 

A federal judge has dismissed the majority of claims of mismanagement of water-development projects brought forward by the Ute tribe. The tribe in Northeast Utah alleged the U.S. Interior Department and the state of Utah perpetuated discrimination and violated sovereignty when it came to water rights. The judge dismissed 12 of 16 claims in the lawsuit. The other four were transferred to the district of Utah federal court. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

National Park Service Holding Public Meetings About Airplane Tours 

The National Park Service is working on plans to manage commercial flight tours at four parks in Utah. This effort started over 20 years ago and is just now opening for public comment. The draft plans define routes planes can take, when they can fly and at what altitude. Park officials are holding virtual public meetings for Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Natural Bridges National Monument. Patty Trap, Arches superintendent, said they need to protect resources while also providing various recreational activities. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery


Mountain West State And Cities Fighting Back Against COVID-19 Misinformation

Some state and local governments in the West are beginning to crack down on misinformation about COVID-19 and treatments. Las Vegas area county commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday calling misinformation a “public health crisis.” In Idaho, the state public health department is going to begin banning certain users from commenting on its Facebook page, including anyone who threatens healthcare workers or repeatedly posts misleading information. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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