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AM News Brief: Opioid overdoses, remote learning & fury over school emails

A photo of Naloxone dosage vials.
Ivana Martinez
Nonmedical bystanders have saved thousands of lives from opioid overdoses in Utah through the program Utah Naloxone. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Friday morning, Jan. 14, 2022

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County mask mandate will stay in place for now

The Salt Lake County Council voted 5-4 Thursday to not overturn the health department's mask mandate. Republican Council Chair Laurie Stringham was the swing vote and said she wants to find a way to slow the spread of COVID without having a mandate in place. She said she’s meeting with state leaders on Monday morning, and if they can come up with a better solution, she said the council will vote to overturn the mandate next week. When the Council voted to overturn a mask mandate for schools in August, all of its Republican members were on board. This time, Republican Council Member Aimee Winder Newton jumped ship and voted to keep the mandate. She said this time is different because COVID is so widespread it’s causing worker shortages. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Parents outraged by schools’ emails

Two high schools faced outrage after sending emails Thursday night saying students who tested positive for COVID-19 could return to school Friday. Layton and Woods Cross High revoked the emails hours later, but the Salt Lake Tribune published the messages. The emails followed Utah officials’ suspension of “Test to Stay.” Because of that, the schools said the results from those events could no longer be upheld, and students who refused to test or tested positive could return to school. According to the Tribune, parents said more than 180 students tested positive at a recent event at Woods Cross High, and over 200 tested positive at Layton High this week. — The Salt Lake Tribune

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

Some schools choose to move online

Some schools in the Salt Lake Valley will temporarily move to remote learning following a change in school guidelines. According to a statement by the Salt Lake City School District, three high schools met the threshold for “Test to Stay” — like many schools across the Wasatch Front. This has stretched state and county health departments thin. Thursday, in the wake of these outbreaks, Utah officials relaxed rules for schools moving online. East, Highland and West High Schools will return to in-person classes on Wednesday. The Granite Board of Education also authorized distance learning in an emergency meeting Thursday night. — Leah Treidler


Thousands of Utahns saved from drug overdoses

Nonmedical bystanders have saved 7,034 people from opioid overdoses in Utah through Utah Naloxone — an organization working to increase access to the drug naloxone and prevent opioid deaths. That’s according to a statement from the organization Thursday. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18.9 out of 100,000 people in Utah died from drug overdoses in 2019 — a 78% rate increase from two decades before. And opioid use has spiked during the pandemic. Deaths rose 18.7% from May 2020 to May 2021. The drug naloxone reverses an opioid overdose. Kits and training are free through Utah Naloxone. — Leah Treidler


Native Americans report proportionately high rates of hunger

Nearly half of Native Americans and Alaska Natives have experienced food insecurity during the pandemic, according to a recent report from several Native-led groups. The data eclipses federal numbers showing food insecurity remained mostly constant nationwide last year. Toni Stanger-McLaughlin is with the Native American Agriculture Fund, which co-led the survey. She said the U.S. Department of Agriculture data missed struggling people in Indian Country, and Native-led groups are best equipped to collect this kind of important data from their communities. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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