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PM News Brief: Salt Lake County mask mandate, removing derogatory names & a new COVID high

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Salt Lake County has put a mask mandate in place amid record-breaking COVID-19 cases. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Friday evening, Jan. 7, 2022

State

Utah continues to break recently set COVID-19 records 

For the third day in a row, Utah set a new COVID-19 single day case count record. Health officials reported 9,469 new cases. That’s about twice as many as last Friday. The surge has led to an increased demand for testing. The Utah Department of Health said anyone looking to get tested for COVID should expect wait times between 30 minutes and 4 hours. Officials said people now need to arrive at least one hour before a site closes. If you don’t you’ll be given an at-home kit or asked to return at another time. Four locations are also moving to appointment-only: Bountiful, West Jordan, Timpanogos Regional Hospital and Cannon Health Building. For more information on changes you can visit testutah.com. — Ross Terrell & Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Northern Utah

University of Utah students call for better response to racist incidents 

Students at the University of Utah protested Friday afternoon calling for action from school administrators after multiple racist incidents occurred on campus. In one incident, one resident reported finding a paper towel with a brown substance on their door handle that’s thought to be feces. In another, a resident assistant reported overhearing people were dressed in KKK attire. One of the protesters, Ermiya Fanaeian, said they want to see a sense of urgency when these events happen. University officials said the incidents are still being investigated. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Lehi couple allegedly defrauds people out of nearly $4 million 

A couple from Lehi has been indicted on charges of defrauding people out of a combined $3.65 million. District of Utah U.S. Attorney Andrea Martinez said Misiona and Lavinia Patane are accused of money laundering, fraud, identity theft and kidnapping. The Patanes worked for a foundation started by a former professional athlete. They allegedly diverted $1.25 million from the athlete to themselves. The other alleged victim was a vulnerable adult who suffered a traumatic brain injury. Misiona Patane is accused of holding that person in the country Samoa under false pretenses for more than a year and misusing their trust money. — Caroline Ballard

Salt Lake County issues mask mandate for next 30 days 

Salt Lake County’s health department has issued a mask mandate. It goes into effect just after midnight Saturday and will remain in place until Feb. 7. Masks will be required in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status or past infection. The order comes as Utah has seen a major surge in COVID-19 cases — due to the highly contagious omicron variant. County health director Angela Dunn said in a statement “we desperately need to use every tool available” to not overwhelm our hospitals. Exemptions to the mandate include kids under the age of 2 or while eating and drinking at a restaurant. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Removing derogatory names from geographic features

The Interior Department is seeking nominations for an advisory group to help rename geographic features that have derogatory names. It wants a range of people — including tribal members, civil rights experts and the general public — for the 17 spots. This is the latest step in a move to rid the American landscape of offensive names. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says it’s aimed at places that “perpetuate a legacy of oppression.” She already ordered that the name ‘squaw’ be removed from all federal lands, where it shows up more than 650 times. — Mountain West News Bureau

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