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PM News Brief: Utah small business loans, ACA enrollment opens & increasing the number of gray wolves

Close up photo of gray wolf sitting in grass.
Wikimedia Commons
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The Biden administration is paving the way for more wolves in the southwest. This story and more in Monday morning's news brief.

Monday evening, Nov. 1, 2021

State

Utah processes nearly 60,000 small business loans 

Since the pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration has given out more loans in Utah than in the past 55 years combined. That’s according to SBA Utah district director Marla Trollan. She said Monday over the last fiscal year, the agency has processed nearly 60,000 loans amounting to almost $4 billion in the Beehive State. Minority owned businesses in Utah received nearly $100 million. Veteran owned and woman owned companies received a combined $70 million. The administration says despite progress made with its traditional loaning programs, there is still a gap in which communities can access capital. The SBA said closing that gap remains a top priority. — Ross Terrell

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act opens for Utahns 

The open enrollment period for health plans through the federal government’s Marketplace begins Monday. Affordable Care Act consumers can sign up for a new plan or change their current one through Jan. 15. The Utah Health Policy Project is offering free assistance with enrollment through its initiative: Take Care Utah. According to the organization, subsidies decreased in 2021 because of federal pandemic aid. — Caroline Ballard

Utah sees another 29 people die from COVID-19 

Utah health officials said Monday 29 more people have died from COVID-19. That’s a three-day total dating back to Friday. Three of them were between the ages of 25 and 44. Officials also reported more than 3,000 new cases. Utah’s test positivity rate is now higher than 11% and more than 530 people are hospitalized due to the virus. Both numbers are higher than they were a week ago. The state’s week-long average of new cases is also higher than it was last Monday. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City officials announce plans for Ballpark neighborhood 

Salt Lake City officials announced their initial plan for the Ballpark neighborhood located just south of downtown. The neighborhood plan has six areas of focus — one includes reconfiguring the trax station to improve access. Carlton Christensen, with the Utah Transit Authority, said it’s an attempt for them to improve transportation in the area. The Ballpark plan also aims to improve pedestrian safety, create more greenspaces, invest in community amenities and repurpose parking lots. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall says they also want to add a public library to the neighborhood. The public will be able to comment on the plan when the 45-day period opens which Mendenhall said will be soon. — Ivana Martinez

Region/Nation

Opening the door for more gray wolves

The Biden administration is paving the way for more wolves in the southwest. The endangered Mexican gray wolf currently lives in Arizona, New Mexico and Sonora. There are fewer than 200 and they’re part of an experimental reintroduction program. For years, their population has been capped at 325. If they ever exceeded those numbers, wildlife agencies planned to either trap or kill them. But recently the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing that population cap. The agency also wants to temporarily ban state officials from killing wolves under the rationale of protecting big game like elk or deer. The proposal was prompted by a lawsuit by the environmental nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. The agency will either kill or trap wolves if they attack livestock or wander outside of a designated geographic boundary. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau 

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