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PM News Brief: Guilty verdict in Ahmaud Arbery trial, Thanksgiving precautions and U hate crime

An illustration of a family in face masks celebrating thanksgiving.
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Thanksgiving is essentially here and Wednesday is one of the busiest travel days of the year. But as you’re moving through airports and gathering with family members, doctors advise staying cautious about spreading COVID-19. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Nov. 24, 2021

State

Ending the tax on food in Utah 

Utah state lawmakers and community members want to end the sales tax on food items. Rep. Rosemary Lesser, D-Ogden, is sponsoring a bill that would eliminate the state’s food sales tax. Right now it’s at 3% and more than half of that goes to the state. Lesser said it disportionately impacts low-income families. Rev. Vinnetta Golphin-Wilkerson, with Granger Community Christian Church in West Valley, said in recent years her church’s emergency food pantry has turned into a survival one. Lesser said she’s having conversations with other lawmakers about the bill. Read the full story. Ivana Martinez

Testing is the key to stopping COVID spread over Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is essentially here and Wednesday is one of the busiest travel days of the year. But as you’re moving through airports and gathering with family members, doctors advise staying cautious about spreading COVID-19. Brandon Webb, an infectious disease specialist with Intermountain Healthcare, said one of the best strategies for keeping people safe is still testing. “We can’t afford to follow the pattern that we traditionally follow where if you get the sniffles or kind of feel off, you let it run its course and see how you do,” Webb said. He said vaccinated people who do get COVID, sometimes experience common upper respiratory symptoms like a runny nose or sore throat. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Salt Lake NAACP ecstatic with guilty verdict in Ahmaud Arbery trial 

The three white men who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery in south Georgia last year, were found guilty of felony murder Wednesday. The Salt Lake Branch of the NAACP said in a statement “this is a great day to have a guilty verdict.” But they cautioned there is still a lot of work to do to address white supremacy. Arbery was jogging in a Georgia neighborhood in late February 2020 when three men followed him in a truck before getting out and murdering him. They were not immediately charged. The civil rights group says now, they want to see the U.S. Department of Justice follow through with hate crime charges levied against the defendants. — Ross Terrell

University of Utah President speaks out against campus hate crime

The University of Utah said one of its contractors was called the N-word while making a delivery at a residence hall in late September. Students also threw sunflower seeds and coffee pods at them. University President Taylor Randall said Tuesday he was recently made aware of the situation. In a statement, he said “racist and hateful behavior on our campus is an offense to our entire community.” The U’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion said they are currently monitoring the situation. It said the two students were identified and held accountable through the university’s conduct process. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

U.N. climate conference addresses impact of climate change on health 

The recent U.N. climate conference in Glasgow finally acknowledged climate change is a major public health threat. It’s something people have likely thought about while breathing in smoky air during our lengthening wildfire seasons — climate change has health risks. But some experts say traditionally, U.N. climate conferences have ignored health. The direct health effects of climate change are easier to pinpoint, like heat-related illness. The potential indirect effects, such as cardiovascular disease and asthma-related sickness, are less talked about. Health experts hope this rising public awareness leads to more action on climate and environmental justice. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau 

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