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PM News Brief: 92,000 crisis line calls, rural electric vehicles & health hazards in Salt Lake County homes

Close up of an electric car charging.
Pixabay
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The U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a hearing Wednesday looking into how the push for more electric vehicles will impact rural communities. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Wednesday evening, Jan. 12, 2022

Southern Utah

Washington County schools unveil new policy to deal with book bans 

The Washington County School District removed one book from school libraries last month because of explicit content. Another book in high schools requires parents’ permission to read it. Now, the district is working on a policy to hopefully avoid future bans. It would notify parents about what books their kids check out from the library. Some materials would also need parental permission. Steve Dunham, the spokesperson for the district, said they want there to be “complete transparency.” The parents who led the charge to remove the book last month say this new policy isn’t enough. They want even more books banned. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County to address health hazards in low income homes

The federal government has awarded Salt Lake County $2 million to address health hazards in low-income homes. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Healthy Homes Production Grant Program helps identify and remove lead, as well as other hazards like mold, carbon monoxide and radon. The Salt Lake County funding is expected to help with issues in about 130 homes. — Caroline Ballard

State

A jump in calls to Utah’s mental health crisis line 

During the fiscal year ending in June of 2021, the Utah Crisis Line received more than 92,500 calls — a 32% increase from the year before. That’s according to the annual report released this week by the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. Over that same time period, about 1,400 life saving interventions were initiated for people who were at “imminent risk of sucide.” The institute says now it is working with other state partners to prepare to launch the 988 hotline this summer. It’s a national initiative to help people who need mental health assistance. Until then, if you or anyone you know needs help, call the Utah Crisis Line at 801-587-3000. — Ross Terrell

Utah sets new COVID record with more than 10,000 cases 

Utah’s record-smashing streak continues when it comes to COVID numbers. For the first time ever, the state topped 10,000 new cases in a single day. Wednesday, the Utah Department of Health reported 10,220. The state’s positivity rate is now more than 24%. Hospitalizations also broke a record high Wednesday as there are currently 608 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Fourteen more Utahns have died of the virus — three women and 11 men. — Caroline Ballard

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Region/Nation

Thinking rural with rollout of electric vehicles

President Joe Biden wants electric vehicles to make up more than half of all new car sales by 2030. The U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a hearing Wednesday looking into how this rollout will impact rural communities. Right now, there are some big barriers, including a lack of charging stations, batteries that struggle in the severe cold, and many vehicles can’t go further than 250 miles per charge. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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