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PM News Brief: Zions Bank accounts, ICU capacity & new water year begins

Photo of the outside of the University of Utah Hospital building
Wikimedia Commons
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Utah’s intensive care units are operating beyond full capacity. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Friday evening, Oct. 8, 2021

State

Zions Bank opens new account to help low income Utahns

Zions Bank has launched a new type of account that has zero overdraft fees to help improve access to banking for low-income people who have traditionally not used banks because of unpredictable charges. In most cases, banks issue a fee every time an account is overdrawn. The new account is called OnBudget Banking, and instead charges just a $5 monthly fee. About 5% of all Americans are unbanked and do not have a checking or savings account, Zions Bank said in a press release. — Caroline Ballard

Utah’s ICU capacity at 100.8% 

Utah’s intensive care units are operating beyond full capacity. As of Friday, state data show every ICU bed in the state is occupied. About 45% of those patients are hospitalized due to Covid-19. Utah’s Department of Health told KUER in a statement Utah’s ICU situation should “serve as a reminder for people about the importance of getting vaccinated — if they haven’t already.” Officials also said hospitals are “still taking care of patients who need intensive care beds for issues other than COVID — whether that’s moving patients sooner or leveraging resources as much as possible.” Health officials reported more than 1,600 new cases Friday. The state’s positivity rate remains relatively unchanged compared to the start of the week. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

President Biden officially restores Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante

President Joe Biden signed proclamations Friday to officially restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. A day before Biden’s announcement, Utah leaders released statements opposing the restoration. They’re in favor of the smaller monument designations from the Trump administration. But Biden said protection of public lands shouldn’t become “a pendulum that swings back and forth depending on who’s in public office.” Tribal leaders and environmental groups thanked the president and his administration for the proclamations. Now tribal leaders say they’re focused on developing and implementing a co-management plan for Bears Ears. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Women still earning less than men in full-time jobs

Nationally, women working full-time jobs only make 82.3% of what their male counterparts do on average. But in several Western states, they make even less when compared to men. In Nevada, for example, they only earn 79.8% of what men do, and in Utah, their wages are 72.7% of men’s earnings. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau 

Start of new water year brings drought conditions with it

October marks the beginning of a new calendar for those who measure and manage the West’s water. And as it arrives, much of the region remains mired in drought conditions. There is good news though. Across the Colorado River basin, there’s a lot less “exceptional drought.” The amount of land under the absolute driest designation is down about 60% in less than a year. The bad news is more than 90% of the basin remains in some level of drought. And since that trend has spanned decades, it means reservoirs holding water for farms and cities are lower than ever. Summer monsoons brought record rain to parts of Arizona, but spared the rest of the region. Drought is most severe in parts of Utah and Nevada. Forecasters think this year will bring “La Niña” conditions, which tends to mean a warmer and drier winter for the Southwest.  — Alex Hager, KUNC

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