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PM News Brief: University bomb threat, affordable housing promises & record organ transplants

A photo of the Intermountain Alta View Clinic building.
Wikimedia Commons
A record-breaking 300 transplants were performed last year by Intermountain Healthcare, with the majority being kidney and liver. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, Jan. 11, 2022

State

Medical marijuana patients running into financial barriers

It’s been two years since the Utah Department of Health began to issue medical cannabis cards. Since then, the program has seen a major boom with the number of cardholders more than tripling. But some patients have run into financial barriers accessing the medicine. Zac King says the cost of his products has forced him to choose whether he is going to pay his mortgage or get his medicine. One medical cannabis advocacy group said there needs to be real change with the current program. A 2021 annual report from the state’s health department found accessibility has been a big issue, but they plan to look into ways to improve it. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Intermountain Healthcare sees record breaking year for organ transplants

Intermountain Healthcare hit a milestone last year as it performed its 5,000th solid organ transplant in adults. IHC said 2021 was a record breaker despite dealing with the Covid pandemic. About 300 transplants were performed with the majority being kidney and liver. The record-setting year followed the national trend. In the U.S. more than 40,000 operations took place last year according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. The total number of people awaiting a transplant nationwide has also fallen to its lowest total since 2009, about 107,000. A few more than 800 of them are in Utah. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

University of Utah police looking into bomb threat

University of Utah police are investigating a bomb threat made early Tuesday morning to the school’s Black Cultural Center. A tip to a crisis center call line in California said a bomb was placed at the center on campus. Responding officers said no one was in the building and they did not find any device. According to university police, similar threats were made around the country Tuesday. Last week, eight HBCUs also received threats. — Caroline Ballard

Utah law enforcement breaks up alleged gambling ring in Roy

The attorney general’s office in Utah has busted an alleged illegal gambling ring in Roy. The operation was being run out of a Texaco gas station. Undercover detectives said they played on electronic gaming devices over the span of two months and were paid in cash for winning. Officers took 20 of the video game type machines and several large bags of cash from the Texaco. The owner has since been charged with 20 counts of operating fringe gambling devices and one count of money laundering. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Reno developer promises affordable housing, but residents are still worried 

Recent research shows gentrification can lead to higher housing costs and that’s happening across the Mountain West. The company behind a planned redevelopment of downtown Reno held a virtual public forum with city officials Monday night. CEO Jeff Jacobs wants to build a mixed-use neighborhood called the Neon Line District. He’s promised that 10% of any housing he builds will be affordable, but he hasn’t put that in writing. Some residents, like Terry LoBianco, are concerned the city won’t be able to enforce that benchmark. Jacobs is also facing criticism because many of the properties his company has knocked down were weekly motels that used to provide housing for low income residents. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

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