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AM News Brief: Dangers of PFAS chemicals, Navajo Nation charges in COVID test hiring & Tabernacle Choir tops Billboard chart

Large choir before a towering pipe organ decorated for Christmas.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
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The Tabernacle Choir has reached #1 on the Classical Traditional Billboard chart. This story and more in Wednesday morning's news brief.

Wednesday morning, Dec 8, 2021

State

Utah COVID update

On Tuesday, the Utah Department of Health reported 1,122 new cases of COVID-19 with about 15% of those in school-aged children. Over 500 people are currently hospitalized, and the state recorded 11 new deaths. The majority of counties across the state are still in a high transmission level. Officials said that unvaccinated people were 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people over the last month. — Leah Treidler

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Southern/Central Utah

Iron County wants to pipe water from elsewhere

Iron County had one of the driest and warmest years on record in 2021. At a packed public meeting Tuesday, county officials laid out plans for the future of water use in the area. The Cedar Valley has unique challenges when it comes to water. The people rely on aquifer storage, rather than a river system or reservoirs, according to Paul Monroe, general manager of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District. He said because of their drying local aquifers, they’re looking elsewhere for other resources. One solution is the Pine Valley Water Supply project, which would pipe in water from just north of the county. The project is estimated to cost $260 million, and it’s currently under federal environmental review. Read the full story. Lexi Peery, St. George

Northern Utah

Tabernacle Choir tops Billboard charts

The Tabernacle Choir has topped the Billboard charts for the 15th time with their newest album “Christmas Best.” It hit number one on the Classical Traditional chart the week of Nov. 27. The album is a compilation of popular religious and secular songs. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Former Navajo officer allegedly misrepresented COVID testing firm

The Navajo Nation has accused its former top financial officer of misrepresenting information on a company hired to do rapid COVID-19 testing on the reservation. The criminal complaints filed Friday in tribal court alleged Pearline Kirk violated tribal law in advising the government to hire Agile Technologies Group LLC. The Nation’s Department of Justice said the company received more than $3 million for pandemic-related services it wasn't qualified to provide. Kirk's attorney said Monday he hasn't seen the latest complaints and declined to comment. He previously said Kirk did nothing wrong and was protecting essential workers in her office. The Navajo Nation reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. — Associated Press

Lawmakers explore dangers of PFAS chemicals

Congress held a hearing Tuesday about PFAS, a group of man-made chemicals known to cause illnesses, cancer and damaged immune systems in children. They're used in products ranging from non-stick pans to raincoats because they don't break down easily, but that also means they linger for a long time. Researchers said we need to know more about which of the thousands of PFAS chemicals are dangerous, how to efficiently clean them out of the environment and how to limit their creation and spread. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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