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AM News Brief: Mobile driver’s licenses, record October snow & Utah ready to start vaccinating kids

Photo of Park City Mountain Resort and town.
Johnnya123
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iStock.com
Utah just had its snowiest October since 2004 according to the non-profit trade group Ski Utah. The amount of water in snowpack across Utah’s mountains is more than 150% above normal. This story and more in Wednesday's news brief.

Wednesday morning, Nov. 3, 2021

State

Utah ready to start administering kids’ COVID vaccines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off Tuesday on COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11. The Utah Department of Health tweeted they were “thrilled” with the recommendation. They said pediatric doses began arriving at Utah provider’s offices Tuesday, and health officials said they are ready to start vaccinating kids immediately. There are around 365,000 children in that age group in Utah. Since Friday there have been nearly 450 new cases of the virus in kids 5-10 years old. — Elaine Clark

COVID relief brings too much red tape for some schools

Utah schools are receiving close to $1 billion in federal COVID relief funds. The money is intended to keep schools afloat through the pandemic and provide additional support for students. Of the 155 public school districts and charters in Utah, five said they don’t need the latest round. Errol Porter, principal of Timpanogos Academy in Lindon, said his school has not been heavily impacted by the pandemic, so he felt it was not worth the bureaucratic headache of applying for extra money. Others said they would have had to hire additional staff to manage the process. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Record October snow

Utah just had its snowiest October since 2004 according to the non-profit trade group Ski Utah. The amount of water in snowpack across Utah’s mountains is more than 150% above normal. Alta Ski area got 67 inches of snow last month, and Solitude got 63 inches. Ski Utah said this doesn’t mean Utah will necessarily have record snow throughout the season, but it does mean there’s a good chance that resorts will open on time this year. — Elaine Clark

Northern Utah

State expands mobile driver’s license pilot program

Two Utah liquor stores will start accepting mobile driver’s licenses as legal identification this week. The Saratoga Springs location will hold an event this Wednesday to help people set their IDs up on their phones. Thursday the Farmington liquor store will do the same. Both events run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. This is part of a mobile driver’s license pilot program. Till now, only Harmons grocery store and Utah Community Credit Union have been set up to accept mobile licenses. The DABC is the first state agency to have it, and they hope to expand to other liquor stores by the end of the month. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

Wildfire smoke pushes migratory birds off course

During the 2020 wildfire season, smoke was so bad that some migratory geese changed their behavior to avoid it. That’s according to new research published in the journal Ecology. It's the first to use GPS data to study the effects of wildfire smoke on bird migrations. Researchers said they found one goose hundreds of miles off course in Idaho’s panhandle. Others touched down on the Pacific Ocean and floated for a few days. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Drought impacts plans to give Grand Canyon a good rush of water

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation decided against flooding the Grand Canyon this fall to redeposit sediment. A remarkable monsoon left an abundance of sand in the Colorado River system. It helped build up beaches and sandbars in the Grand Canyon. But agency officials said opening the bypass tubes at the Glen Canyon Dam would have reduced the elevation of Lake Powell at a time when it's at historic lows because of drought. The agency also cited projected losses in hydropower. Some have criticized the bureau's decision — saying it was based on politics, not science. — Associated Press

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