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AM News Brief: 5G delay around some airports, COVID-relief for schools & inflation in the Mountain West

Photo of airplanes outside the Salt Lake City International Airport.
Brian Albers
/
KUER
AT&T and Verizon have delayed activating 5G at some towers around major airports. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Wednesday morning, Jan. 19, 2022

Northern Utah

Health official criticizes repeal of mask mandates

The Utah Senate passed a resolution Tuesday to overturn mask mandates in Salt Lake and Summit Counties. At a press conference shortly after, Salt Lake County Health Department Executive Director Angela Dunn said she’s never seen the government move so fast and added the decision is harmful to the health of Salt Lake County residents. The resolution now goes to the House for consideration. Utah reported nearly 40,000 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday — a four-day total that takes into account the long weekend. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

Colorado River flow is critical for native fish

Native Colorado River Basin fish need water to survive, which isn’t groundbreaking news by any means, but recent research finds that natural stream flows are also critical for the survival of these species. The White River runs through eastern Utah. It’s a tributary of the Green River — part of the Colorado River system. Phaedra Budy, with the department of watershed sciences at Utah State University, said the White River is one of the few remaining streams with natural flows, and there’s a robust native fishery. To maintain and restore healthy habitats, there needs to be more conservation. According to Casey Pennock, also a watershed scientist at USU, further water development along some of these rivers needs to stop. Read the full story.Lexi Peery, St. George

State

Airlines scramble to change flights as 5G rolls out

AT&T and Verizon have delayed activating 5G at some towers around major airports but will proceed as planned at others. That’s despite airlines pleading with the federal government to stop the rollout. In a letter, they said 5G would interfere with altimeters in some older planes and force them to delay, divert or cancel over 1,000 flights a day. Neal Patwari, a professor of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, is working with the University of Utah to deploy 5G technology. He said the airlines’ claims’ are unfounded and overly cautious. He added that 5G hasn't interfered with airplanes in other countries. But the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that 5G interference could prevent some aircraft from stopping on the runway. — Leah Treidler & Pamela McCall

COVID-relief funding for teachers

Public school teachers in Utah can now apply for up to $1,000 for classroom resources. That’s because the Utah State Board of Education allocated $12 million in COVID relief funds for Pre-K-12 public schools. Any full-time school employee who spends most of their time teaching or counseling students can apply for a grant through the DonorsChoose website. The announcement comes as omicron spikes in schools across the state. All Salt Lake City schools are online until Jan. 24, and 19 schools in Davis School District moved to remote learning Wednesday. Jordan School District also moved all students online Wednesday after outbreaks at six of its high schools and one of its middle schools. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

Inflation is hitting the Mountain West the hardest

Inflation is the highest the nation’s seen in decades — and it’s the worst in the Mountain West region. The Bureau of Labor Statistics put out a report last week that had alarm bells ringing all over the U.S. — but inflation is hitting the Mountain West the hardest. When you break the report down to regions of the country, the Mid-Atlantic had a 5.8% increase in consumer prices over the last year, and New England’s prices increased by 6.2%. But the Mountain West saw an 8.6% increase. That includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Some of the driving factors are food, transportation and energy, including the cost of gas and electricity. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

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