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AM News Brief: A possible “twindemic,” rural transportation & loans for some businesses impacted by drought

Illustration of a virus molecule.
Pixabay/Svetlozar Hristov
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Researchers are planning for a “twindemic" — where COVID and the flu are circulating at the same time. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Wednesday morning, Oct. 13, 2021

State

Rural transportation planning

Utah’s Department of Transportation is asking for public comment on its long range rural transportation plan. It prioritizes system needs for the next 25 to 30 years in all areas outside of Logan, Salt Lake City, Provo and St. George. People can comment where they have safety concerns or where more capacity is needed. Public feedback can be given until Dec. 10, and the planning process for the rural plan runs through mid-2023. — Ross Terrell

Loans for businesses impacted by drought

Small non-farm businesses in 27 Utah counties are eligible for assistance if they were impacted by this year’s drought. The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low interest loans to businesses that depend on farmers and ranchers, including agricultural cooperatives, nonprofit organizations and nurseries. Nonfarm companies that qualify can apply for up to $2 million for working capital needs. This year’s drought reached its peak in Utah in July when 98% of the state was experiencing extreme drought conditions. As of last week, 87% of the state was still in that designation. Applications for SBA loans are open until Nov. 12. — Elaine Clark

Southern Utah

St. George mayoral “debate”

St. George Mayor Michele Randall is vying to become the first woman elected to lead the city after being appointed to the position in January of this year. Her opponent is Jimmie Hughes, a current city council member who runs a local mortuary. In a debate Tuesday night, the two didn’t differ much in their stances on water, growth and the Dixie name change. Randall said what makes her stand out from her opponent is her availability for the job. Hughes disputed that he’s too busy to serve and said he’s got a variety of job experiences that she doesn’t. Mail-in ballots are expected to arrive at people’s homes in the coming days. Election Day is Nov. 2. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Planning for a “twindemic”

Americans got a break from the flu season last year, and epidemiologists think that was because of COVID-19 precautions. But there's now less masking and social distancing, and vaccination rates remain low in much of the region. Researchers say these factors could lead to a “twindemic" — where COVID and the flu are circulating at the same time. That would make things even harder for hospitals already overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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