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PM News Brief: Remembering Colin Powell, Utah COVID update & regulation PFAs

A photo of disposable face masks.
Chelsea Naughton
/
KUER
Utah’s three-day, weekend total for new COVID-19 cases topped 3,000 once again. This story and more in Monday evening's news brief.

Monday evening, Oct. 18, 2021

State

School boards seek help in dealing with threats 

The National School Boards Association recently wrote a letter to the Biden administration asking for help in dealing with threats against school board members. But for many board members, including here in Utah, the letter appears to be undermining local efforts at maintaining civility and fueling contention among groups already distrustful of local school boards. McKay Jensen, past president of the Utah School Boards Association, said the issues dominating board meetings are increasingly mirroring national debates around things like mask mandates. But he said getting federal law enforcement involved only validates concerns from parents that school boards are trying to silence debate, rather than get back to issues of local importance. Read the full story. Jon Reed

Climate change’s impact on Utah’s ski resorts 

A new Utah State University study has been released on how climate change is impacting ski resorts. It found Utah will warm dramatically by 2100 and that means resorts will increasingly have to rely on snowmaking. But as lead author Emily Wilkins said, climate change is impacting the ability to create snow too. Wilkins said the study shows ski seasons of the future will likely be shorter and we may not be hitting the slopes at Thanksgiving or even Christmas. She adds that skiing in Utah won’t likely end. But with shorter seasons, resorts and outdoor enthusiasts may have to switch gears to pastimes like mountain biking a lot more often. Read the full story.Pamela McCall

Utah elected officials share condolences for Colin Powell 

Utah’s members of Congress are remembering former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He died Monday from COVID-19 complications. He was 84 years old. His family said on Facebook he was fully vaccinated. Rep. Blake Moore, R-UT, shared a photo of himself with Powell from the late ‘90s and said he respected his leadership. Rep. Burgess Owens, R-UT, praised Powell as an “extraordinary public servant,” mentioning his status as the first Black Secretary of State. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, also offered his condolences on Twitter, saying Powell was a man of “undaunted courage and a champion of character.” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has ordered flags to be flown at half staff in Powell’s honor until Friday. — Emily Means

Utah’s three-day COVID total tops 3,000

Utah’s three-day, weekend total for new COVID-19 cases topped 3,000 once again. Health officials reported 3,036 cases Monday, and another 23 people have died from the virus. Almost all of them were older than 44. As of Monday, nearly 86% of Utah’s long-term care facilities have had at least one COVID outbreak. There are currently six nursing homes that have more than 20 active cases. As for the state’s hospitals, about 89% of all ICU beds are in use. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Biden administration announces new regulations for PFAs

The Biden administration announced new regulations for PFAS Monday, which are human-made chemicals that stick around for a very long time. They are used in a wide-range of products, from rain jackets to firefighting foam and can also cause health problems. Across the country, around 120,000 industrial facilities may be handling PFAS. About one-sixth of those are in Colorado alone, and most are with the oil and gas industry. Part of Biden's new PFAS “roadmap” includes a national testing strategy to keep them out of drinking water but some activists say that won’t be enough to protect human health. According to federal documents, Utah has around 600 facilities that may be handling PFAS. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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