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AM News Brief: Ditching your Christmas tree, Wasatch Back air pollution and America health rankings

Photo of Christmas trees in a pile.
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How to get rid of your Christmas tree the right way and more in Tuesday morning's news brief.

Tuesday morning, Dec. 28, 2021

Northern Utah

How to get rid of your Christmas tree the right way

If you’re itching to get your Christmas tree out of the house — you should check with your town first for disposal rules. In Salt Lake City, curbside collection doesn’t begin until Jan. 4. In the meantime, residents are encouraged to cut up their trees into four foot sections and put them in their brown bins for regular pickup before Jan. 24. Several towns along the Wasatch Front have drop off locations including Murray, Sandy and Orem. Trees can’t have any decorations or lights on them. Curbside pick up has started in West Jordan and runs through Jan. 21. — Elaine Clark 

Celebrating New Years with COVID top of mind 

The 'Last Hurrah' is billed as Utah’s biggest countdown to the new year. The street festival brings thousands of people to the Gateway shopping plaza with live music and food vendors. Jacklyn Briggs is the marketing director for the event. She said there won’t be as many COVID-19 restrictions as last year with vaccines now widely available. But they are strongly encouraging people to wear a mask. Over the long holiday weekend, more than 4,607 new COVID-19 cases were reported. Charla Haley, public information officer for the Utah Department of Health, said it is important to assess health risks at holiday gatherings and plan accordingly. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez 

Monitoring air pollution along the Wasatch Back 

The Utah Division of Air Quality wants to expand air quality monitoring in Wasatch and Summit counties. Bo Call, air monitoring center manager for the state, told KPCW in Park City that population growth along the Wasatch Back is creating more pollution there. Call said emissions from cars and homes create the bulk of the problem. Governor Spencer Cox included more than $460,000 for air quality monitoring in the two counties in his fiscal year 2023 budget proposal. — Ben Lasseter, KPCW

State

Bad sleep leads to higher sugar consumption for teenagers

Bad sleep habits lead to bad eating habits for teenagers according to a new study from Brigham Young University published in the medical journal SLEEP. Researchers found that teens who aren’t getting enough sleep turn to carbs and sugars, adding about 12 grams of sugar into their daily diet. That's about 4.5 pounds of extra sugar every year. Lead author Kara Duraccio said tired teens are likely looking for a quick burst of energy. She said one way to address pediatric obesity is to make sure kids are getting eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

Looking at America’s latest health rankings report 

The latest America’s Health Rankings report includes information from before and during COVID-19. It shows the death rate increased by 17%. People in Nevada, Utah and Colorado reported higher levels of mental distress — which was linked to the pandemic. But the prevalence of cancer and patients with multiple chronic conditions went down. According to Dr. Nicole Brady, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare, that’s not necessarily a reason to celebrate. Brady said it’s unclear if we just have a lot of undiagnosed diseases out there because people didn’t seek care. She encouraged people who stayed away from the doctor’s office to schedule a checkup so they can be screened for new conditions. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau 

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