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PM News Brief: Utah receiving Paxlovid, Kanab golf course rejected & two books pulled

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Former State Rep. Mike Noel’s proposal to build a luxury golf course in Kanab has been rejected. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Dec. 22, 2021

State

Protecting voter rights for people with disabilities

Utah lawmakers are set to consider a bill that would further protect the right to vote for people with disabilities. The legislation would require election officials to provide accessible voting options — like auditory machines for people who are blind. They would also have to make rules about how to verify signatures for people who can’t sign their name consistently. Nate Crippes, an attorney with the Disability Law Center based in Salt Lake City, said this would codify protections that already exist in federal law. Weber County Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch said this is already common practice in election offices around Utah, but putting it in state law is especially important as more election officials leave their jobs. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson 

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Utah set to get Paxlovid. But also expect longer wait times for testing 

If you’re looking to get tested for COVID-19, Utah health officials say expect long wait times over the holidays. Officials tweeted Wednesday that testing sites are experiencing high demand. That could also lead to a longer than usual wait time for results. Health officials also announced Utah is in line to receive enough Paxlovid to treat 440 people. The oral antiviral drug has received federal authorization to help treat mild to moderate cases of Covid. It’s available by prescription only for people ages 12 and up. Utah saw 1,406 new COVID cases today and 11 more people have died from the virus. One person was between the ages of 18 and 24. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

State trust land officials say no to golf course in Kanab

Former State Rep. Mike Noel’s proposal to build a luxury golf course in Kanab has been rejected. The Salt Lake Tribune reported the golf course would have been developed on more than 100 acres of state trust land. The Kane County Water Conservancy district planned to use a $10 million loan to build the course. Noel saw the greens as a way to promote tourism in southern Utah. But the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA) ultimately chose a residential development proposal for the land. — Brian Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aims to inform readers across the state.

Washington County pulls two books from school shelves

The Washington County School District has officially banned two books. “The Hate U Give” is now only available in high school libraries. “Out of Darkness” will be pulled from shelves in all schools. Both books have won numerous awards. A committee of parents, principals, librarians and the district superintendent made the decision last week. It was sparked by a parent complaint in the fall. They asked for several books to be removed because of explicit content. Most of them also touch on racism and LGBTQ topics. District board members also discussed having a better vetting process for books in schools. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

COVID’s effect in rural parts of the Mountain West 

People in rural parts of our region are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than those in urban areas. Data from the University of Iowa show that in the Mountain West, rural death rates from COVID-19 were double those of metro areas from mid-October through November. One factor is low vaccination rates. Vaccinated people who contract COVID-19 are less likely to get severely ill or die from the disease than the unvaccinated. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West New Bureau

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