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PM News Brief: Decrease in visitor spending, Salt Lake County vaccine incentives & saving Lake Mead

A photo of Lake Mead.
William J. Klos
/
Flickr
Water agencies from three western states and the federal government have signed a deal to leave extra water in Lake Mead, a reservoir that supplies water throughout the Southwest. This story and more in Wednesday evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Dec. 15, 2021

State

Visitor spending in Utah drops nearly 30% in 2020

Utah saw a nearly 30% drop in visitor spending last year compared to 2019. The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute released its annual tourism report Wednesday which found travelers spent a little more than $7 billion in the state in 2020. The year before, Utah saw record spending of more than $10 billion. There was also a 14% drop off in the number of jobs the tourism and travel industry accounted for. But the news isn’t all bad. Utah’s tourism economy is showing signs of recovery. It saw record visitation from October 2020 through June of this year. — Ross Terrell

Utah child between the ages of 1 and 14 dies from COVID

A Utah child between the ages of 1 and 14 has died from COVID. State Epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolen called it a “tragic reminder that COVID-19 is still spreading in our communities and is still causing preventable deaths.” The Utah Department of Health announced the death as part of its daily case counts — there were more than 1,300 Wednesday. In total, 15 more people from nine different counties died from the virus. The Salt Lake City Council voted on Tuesday to extend its local pandemic state of emergency until March 28 of next year. That will also extend the mask mandate for the city’s K-12 schools. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Results are in for Salt Lake County’s vaccine incentive program 

Salt Lake County launched a COVID vaccine incentive program for its employees in October. It ran through early December and gave workers one time bonuses for proof of a COVID vaccine and flu shot. They also got money if their entire household was vaccinated. According to results presented to the county council Tuesday, more than 5,000 employees claimed the incentive. That’s about three-quarters of the workforce. About 3.5 % of all county employees got vaccinated after the program launched. The county says it spent $2.8 million on the incentives. — Ross Terrell

Lawsuit alleges USU failed its students who reported sexual assault

Utah State University continues to fail its students who’ve reported sexual assault, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday. The lawsuit was on behalf of a student who said she was raped by a football player in 2019. It said she was told during the investigation it might be “easiest” if she left the school. University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora said the patterns are all too familiar. Largely, they amount to institutions like USU more concerned with protecting themselves — and, by extension, assailants — than survivors. Utah State did not respond to KUER’s request for comment. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Region/Nation

Water agencies plan to leave extra water in Lake Mead

Water agencies from three western states and the federal government have signed a deal to leave extra water in Lake Mead, a reservoir that supplies water throughout the Southwest. It’s an effort to stop Lake Mead from dropping past critically low water levels, as drought continues to push supplies past already-historic lows. Under the new plan, states would leave enough water to supply over a million homes each year. California, Arizona, Nevada and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are pooling more than $100 million to incentivize reductions in water use. The measure is seen as a way to encourage voluntary cutbacks before mandatory restrictions are triggered. — Alex Hager, KUNC

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