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AM News Brief: Flu v. COVID, Utah’s winter forecast & redistricting a mixed bag for Latinos in the West

Photo of mountains and cloudy sky.
Chelsea Naughton
/
KUER
Researchers at the Utah Climate Center at Utah State University say for much of the state, above-normal precipitation is expected this winter. But that doesn't mean it will fix the drought. This story and more in Friday morning's news brief.

Friday morning, Nov. 19, 2021

State

Flu v. COVID

As Utah continues to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, flu season has gotten underway. But Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at University of Utah Health, said the two viruses don't have a lot in common. He said COVID is deadlier, spreads easier and doesn't just affect the lungs like the flu does. The flu is a seasonal virus, but he said COVID-19 is not. "It has spread year round," Pavia said. Still, health officials have urged people to get vaccinated for both. Read the full story. — Caroline Ballard / Martha Harris

Group to focus on lowering healthcare costs

Gov. Spencer Cox is launching a new group focused on lowering healthcare costs in the state. Cox said it will coordinate and conduct pilot programs, make policy recommendations and help healthcare providers implement the changes. He said rising costs hurt people’s health outcomes and the economy. The group is expected to be up and running by July. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Painful restraints at Utah teen treatment facilities

Two teen treatment facilities in Utah are coming under fire for using deliberately painful restraints. The scrutiny comes six months after Utah enacted new regulations on the troubled-teen industry that make it illegal to hurt or humiliate residents. State regulators announced earlier this month that White River Academy has been placed on a conditional license. Their decision comes after state officials found staff there repeatedly used painful restraints. Separately, a family from California is suing West Ridge Academy. They allege staff at the West Jordan facility also used painful restraints and broke the wrists of two boys in one week. Read the full story. — Jessica Miller, Salt Lake Tribune / David Fuchs

Winter Outlook

Utah is heading into winter, a vital time for precipitation that could eventually improve water levels. Researchers at the Utah Climate Center at Utah State University say for much of the state, above-normal precipitation is expected this winter. But Jon Meyer, a climatologist at the center, said the state won’t “bust out of the drought” because of one season of snowpack. He said last year there was “inefficient” spring runoff because of record dry soils. However summer and fall storms have helped improve ground moisture levels. Currently, statewide reservoir storage is at 49%. This time last year, they were at 62% capacity. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Redistricting a mixed bag for Latinos in the West

The Democratic-controlled Nevada legislature finished the redistricting process on Tuesday. Utah, Colorado and Idaho all approved their updated districts earlier this month. Advocates say Latinos got left behind in Nevada, because they were split among more congressional districts than before. The government reform advocacy group Common Cause said overall, redistricting has been a mixed bag for Latinos around the West. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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