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PM News Brief: Evan McMullin senate run, Zion hiker found alive & SCOTUS water rights hearing

A photo of helicopters on the ground in Zion National Park.
Courtesy of Zion National Park
Authorities said a 79-year-old hiker reported missing at Utah's Zion National Park has been found alive. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, Oct. 4, 2021

State

Evan McMullin To Challenge Sen. Mike Lee For His Seat 

Evan McMullin, who ran for President as an independent in 2016, plans to challenge Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, for his seat next year, according to reporting from the Salt Lake Tribune. McMullin, who lives in Utah, was a Republican but ran as an independent in 2016 as an alternative to then-candidate Donald Trump. He received 21% of the vote in the state. McMullin previously worked with the CIA and later on as a Congressional staffer. He only needs to gather 1,000 signatures to make it on the ballot. Lee already has two major Republican challengers: former Utah state Rep. Becky Edwards and Ally Isom — former deputy chief of staff for Gov. Gary Herbert. — Sonja Hutson 

Utah Business Pushback On Idea Of Federal COVID Vaccine Mandate

A Utah legislative committee took public comment on President Joe Biden’s vaccine plan for three hours Monday, with most people speaking in opposition. The plan would require businesses with at least 100 employees to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine or weekly testing. Rob Moore, CEO of Big D Construction, said most of their employees in Utah are vaccinated. But he’s worried about losing workers who have decided not to get the shot. Some recent surveys show even though people say they’ll quit over their employer’s vaccine mandates, that isn’t happening. Instead, it tends to result in a rise in vaccination rates. Read the full story. Emily Means

Utah’s Three-Day COVID Update 

Utah health officials reported 3,300 new COVID-19 cases for the first weekend in October. That’s a three-day total that dates back to Friday. The state’s positivity rate has crept to 10.3% after spending most of the end of September hovering below 10%. Eight more people have died from the virus. According to state data, there are currently three schools that are required to test all students to continue in person classes. Those are Buffalo Point and Edgemont elementaries and Mountain Crest High. They are located in Davis, Provo and Cache districts, respectively. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Missing Zion Hiker Found Alive

Authorities said a 79-year-old hiker reported missing at Utah's Zion National Park has been found alive. John Fiske Burg was located Saturday afternoon above Lodge Canyon. Park officials said that’s several miles of difficult terrain away from where his car was parked. They said Burg was treated on scene and transported to a hospital in St. George because he was in need of “serious medical attention.” He was last seen on Sept. 28 leaving a hotel in Kanab where he was staying with a group of 50 hikers. Burg was able to make a 911 phone call to Utah's Washington County on Friday and also left a voicemail message with family. Zion officials said they’ve conducted over 160 search and rescue operations this year, which is above the park’s annual average of 110. — Associated Press & Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

SCOTUS Hears Case On Water Rights Which Could Have Mountain West Implications 

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a complicated groundwater case this week, which could have implications for the Mountain West. The case involves Mississippi alleging that Tennessee takes too much water from an aquifer that runs beneath both states. Several western states have argued against the suit, not wanting to further complicate water law between their states. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Updated: October 5, 2021 at 12:43 PM MDT
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