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PM News Brief: Diesel Brothers fine upheld, omicron COVID spike & Jordan River cleanup

Photo of the Jordan River.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
The Salt Lake County Health Department responded to what appeared to be a diesel spill on the Jordan River this week. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Dec. 29, 2021

State

Utah sees one of its highest COVID-19 cases counts of 2021

Utah is closing out the year with a spike in new COVID-19 cases. Health officials reported more than 3,300 hundred cases Wednesday. That’s the most in a single day since early January 2021. Health officials said in a statement the large number is likely due to the omicron variant and holiday gatherings. They urged people to stay home if they feel sick and to wear a mask if attending a large indoor event. Vaccines continue to be encouraged. Seven more people have died from the virus and about 94% of the state’s ICU beds are occupied. — Ross Terrell

Pandemic shows Utah’s urgent need for more childcare options 

After talking with parents, providers and businesses, Rep. Susan Pulsipher, R-South Jordan, said it’s clear there’s not enough capacity to meet the need for child care. Pulsipher plans to run a bill during the upcoming legislative session that aims to expand those options. The legislation would allow local agencies to put funding that’s typically used for housing toward child care facilities. It also offers grants to help cover startup costs for providers. Anna Thomas, senior policy analyst with Voices for Utah Children, said the bill is a good first step, but the problem is so big, she said she doesn’t think it will have a “substantial impact on access to child care for parents.” Read the full story. — Emily Means

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County cleans up diesel spill on Jordan River 

The Salt Lake County Health Department responded to what appeared to be a diesel spill on the Jordan River this week. The department, along with Salt Lake City Fire, used absorbent material to clean it up. A health department spokesperson said they couldn’t find a source for the diesel but they believe someone either dumped it in a storm drain or put a leaky vehicle next to one. Since the incident was minor, officials don’t anticipate long-term health impacts. — Emily Means

Diesel Brothers fine upheld in federal court

A federal appeals court has upheld a decision that fined the stars of a television show $760,000 for violating air pollution regulations. “Diesel Brothers” is a Discovery channel show that features a Salt Lake City-based company selling modified trucks. The original case found that the company had illegally sold or retrofitted dozens of trucks that violate emissions standards. They “roll coal” - which sends out a plume of black smoke when someone steps on the gas. As a next step, the case will go back to a Salt Lake City courtroom for the judge to determine how many of those trucks were sold or used in Utah. — Caroline Ballard

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

Region/Nation

Mountain West region in line for major omicron surge

The Mountain West could see an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases by the end of January. That’s according to new projections from the University of Washington. New Mexico, Utah and Arizona could be hardest hit by the omicron varian in the region. Researchers predict each of those states will have more than a thousand confirmed cases every day at the peak of the surge. Utah has seen more than 1,800 already twice this week. Lesser populated states such as Wyoming might still see about 600 daily cases during the peak. That’s way more than it saw in previous surges. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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