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PM News Brief: New Harmony water infrastructure, gender-affirming healthcare & COVID-19 update

Sonja Hutson
Colorado just took a historic step as the first state to offer gender-affirming care as an essential benefit in some healthcare plans. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Oct. 14, 2021


Utah’s COVID situation a mixed bag compared to last week 

Much of Utah remains in the high transmission level for COVID-19. Only four counties are in the low level. Health officials reported more than 1,200 new cases Thursday. Week to week, Utah’s COVID situation is a mixed bag. The seven-day average for new cases is down and the state’s positivity rate remains relatively unchanged, but hospitalizations are up and 96% of all intensive care unit beds in the state are full. Eight more people have died from the virus — two of them were between the ages of 25 and 44. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Utah refugee resettlement agencies on the hunt for housing options

Utah resettlement agencies are expecting more than 100 Afghan refugees to arrive by the end of October. As organizations like Catholic Community Services prepare to welcome them in, they say there’s a big need for housing. Paul Smith, executive director of Utah Apartment Association, said it might take a couple of weeks to find long-term housing options but Salt Lake County has the capacity to support new arrivals. Aden Batar, migration and refugee services director for CCS, said while they have some temporary living arrangements sorted out, as more refugees start to arrive — they need the community’s help to fill in the gaps. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Southern Utah

New Harmony set to receive $90,000 to improve its water infrastructure

A southern Utah town is receiving federal funding to improve water access for its residents. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday it’s giving $90,000 to the North Valley Ranches Water Corporation in New Harmony, which is located in Washington County. The money will be split — $50,000 as a loan and $40,000 as grant money. USDA officials said the one well serving the area has shown a significant decrease in capacity and flow and the storage tanks need to be refurbished. The money is a part of a $272 million initiative by President Biden’s administration to improve rural water infrastructure in the country. — Martha Harris


Colorado to include gender-affirming care in some healthcare plans 

Colorado just took a historic step as the first state to offer gender-affirming care as an essential benefit in some healthcare plans. That includes hormone therapy, counseling or surgery for trans people. New research suggests this care strongly improves the mental health of gender diverse young people. But the new policy highlights the lack of LGBTQ-friendly measures in other parts of the region, including states like Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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