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AM News Brief: Governor’s push for the vaccine, new mask mandate in Summit County & jury trials suspension

Sign in front of a school building that says "Welcome! Vaccination Clinic Entrance."
Renee Bright
/
KUER
In a video released Thursday, Governor Spencer Cox pleaded with Utahns to get vaccinated against COVID-19. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Friday morning, Jan. 7, 2022

State

Governor urges Utahns to get the vaccine

In a video released Thursday, Governor Spencer Cox pleaded with Utahns to get vaccinated against COVID-19. He said we can expect record case numbers for the next few weeks, but we already have a tool to beat the virus: the vaccine. So far just about 59% of all Utahns have been fully vaccinated. Health officials reported 8,913 new cases Thursday, setting a record for the second day in a row. Thirteen more people have died from the virus. One of them — a child between the ages of 1 and 14. — Emily Means

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Utahns’ confidence in the economy continues to fall

Consumer confidence in Utah declined for the third consecutive month in December according to a report by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. It’s now fallen to 75.4 — the lowest it’s been in the past year. Still, confidence in Utah remains a few points higher than the U.S. total. But the state saw a drop in the number of people who think they are better off financially now than they were a year ago, and more people think the country as a whole will have bad times financially over the next year. The state hit a peak in confidence in March 2021, a tick above 96, but it has slowly fallen since then. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

Summit County announces another mask mandate

In the wake of the omicron outbreak, Summit County health officials reinstated a mask mandate Thursday. They say the county’s case rates have smashed previous records and demand for tests has reached unprecedented levels. They hope the new order will protect the local economy, schools and frontline workers. The mask mandate went into effect today and will remain until Feb. 21. All individuals over the age of 2 must wear a mask in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. That includes classrooms, grocery stores and offices. — Leah Treidler

Courts in Salt Lake City postpone in-person jury trials

Officials at the Salt Lake City Justice Court and the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah announced their decisions this week to suspend in-person jury trials. The suspensions come as new COVID cases in Salt Lake County hit record highs — 4,217 on Wednesday alone — and 185 residents remain in the hospital. Jury trials at Utah State Courts will continue to take place in person with safety measures like masking and social distancing. — Leah Treidler

University of Utah appoints new chief of public safety

Keith Squires is the University of Utah’s new chief of public safety. He’s served in the position on an interim basis since last June and is a veteran in Utah law enforcement. He was also part of the independent review committee that looked into the school's handling of Lauren McCluskey's murder. He said that experience showed him the changes that campus police needed, such as increased collaboration between officers and outside agencies. But he’s also seen how important it is to engage the campus community. Squires has already won over some students, who say he seems sincere about making improvements on campus. Others, like student government leader Maryan Shale, are cautiously optimistic he’ll stick to his word about working with students. She says she’ll be looking to see how present he is on campus and how he reaches out to historically marginalized students. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Region/Nation

Chair lift makers bounce back after last year’s slow season

The first winter of the pandemic hit most businesses hard, including ski resorts and the chairlift makers that serve them. But since then, those chairlift makers have seen a massive surge in business as resort operations expand all across the West. Officials at Leitner-Poma in Grand Junction, Colorado, say the increased business is coming from all over, including giants like Vail as well as small, independent ski resorts. They’re even eyeing growth into the urban sector, with a gondola/autonomous vehicle hybrid that can switch from being on a cable to cruising on the ground. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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