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PM News Brief: Utah’s Water Resources Plan, COVID In Schools Hearing & Sex Offender On The Run Arrested

A photo of elementary students wearing protective face masks and a little girl disinfecting her hands in the classroom.
Drazen Zigic
/
iStockphoto
Schools across the country are struggling with staff shortages and COVID-19 outbreaks. Education and public health experts testified about these issues in front of Congress Wednesday. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Sept. 29, 2021

State

Safe UT App Sees Jump In Usage Over The Past Year 

The number of people using the Safe UT app, which allows users to connect with licensed mental health providers, increased by nearly 40% over the last year. There were over 30,000 chats and tips submitted on the app in the last year. About a fifth of them were related to suicide — by far the highest of any category. But there were also close to 300 “life-saving interventions” that came as a result of people reaching out for thoughts of suicide. A new report found people tended to use the app more in areas with higher rates of poverty and COVID-19. Read the full story.Jon Reed

If you or someone you know needs help, visit safeut.org or call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Public Comment Open For Utah’s Water Resources Plan 

Public comment is now open for Utah’s Water Resources plan. The state’s Division of Water Resources says that includes ideas for handling water statewide. The plan also looks at needs for Utah’s 11 river basin planning areas. Division officials said the draft isn’t just for how to respond to the drought, but it’s a 50-year guide for how the state can best use its water. Some of the goals include bringing more water to the Great Salt Lake and continued progress on the Lake Powell pipeline. Public comments can be submitted online through Nov. 15. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Convicted Sex Offender From Kansas Captured In Wayne County 

Federal officials said a convicted sex offender, John Freeman Colt, has been captured in Utah. Colt escaped from a state hospital in Kansas in June. The U.S. Marshal's office announced this week the 42-year-old was arrested in Wayne County after a citizen reported seeing him camping on federal land. Colt escaped Larned State Hospital by creating a staff identification badge and pretending to be a doctor. Prosecutors said he walked through five secure doors on his way out of the hospital. U.S. Marshal's said Colt apparently had help and was able to buy a motorcycle while on the run. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Congressional Testimony Of COVID In Schools 

Schools across the country are struggling with staff shortages and COVID-19 outbreaks. Education and public health experts testified about these issues in front of Congress Wednesday. One public health professor told members of a House subcommittee that he wanted school districts to require all adults to be vaccinated. Another witness said the pandemic has exacerbated staff shortages at schools. Among the witnesses invited by Republicans to testify was a freelance journalist who has written critically about school mask mandates. Last week, more than 200,000 U.S. children contracted COVID-19. So far this year, there have been more than 7,000 positive COVID cases in Utah K-12 students. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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