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AM News Brief: COVID update, SLC report card & Western governors on fighting climate change

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Photo of air pollution over Salt Lake City.
In its 2021 report card, Salt Lake City says it has been successful in efforts to reduce pollution by adopting a work from home hybrid model. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Friday morning, Jan. 21, 2022


Governor says it’s time to support Utah families

In his second State of the State address, Gov. Spencer Cox said for Utah to accomplish its goals, it has to get to work. The governor put a lot of emphasis on supporting families and children. One way is a $970 million investment in education funding and support for legislation that removes school fees for students. He also touched on issues related to growth. In their response to the speech, Democratic leaders called on the state to make big investments in affordable housing, education and infrastructure. Read the full story.Emily Means

COVID death toll surpasses 4,000

According to the Utah Department of Health, 4,019 people in Utah have died of COVID-19. Officials reported 22 more deaths Thursday and counted 11,608 new cases. That’s a slight decrease from Jan. 14 when they reported a record — 13,551 in a day. Nearly 60% of Utah’s population is now fully vaccinated, and in the past 28 days, people who are unvaccinated were more than 12 times as likely to die from the virus. — Leah Treidler

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Utah Supreme Court justice is retiring

Associate Chief Justice Thomas R. Lee is retiring from the Utah Supreme Court. Lee announced his decision in a letter to Gov. Spencer Cox Wednesday. In it, he said he’s going to explore other opportunities in the legal profession. Lee was appointed to the court by Gov. Gary Herbert in 2010. In 2018 and 2020, Lee was placed on former President Donald Trump’s short list of Supreme Court nominees. Lee will step down on July 31. — Leah Treidler

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City earns mixed scores on 2021 report card

Salt Lake City has released its 2021 report card. The report looked at goals set by Mayor Erin Mendenhall's administration and how successful the city was in accomplishing them. Though, it is a self assessment. The report covers a variety of issues ranging from homelessness to sustainability and emergency preparedness. The city completed most of its goals regarding the homeless crisis — like making court services available in every resource center. But it came up short in finding a rotating winter shelter supported by the county and state governments. As for air quality, the city also said it was successful in efforts to reduce pollution by adopting a work from home hybrid model. But tracking pollution in a more localized way is still a work in progress. — Ross Terrell


Western governors want to fund the fight against climate change

Western governors want to use funds from budget surpluses to combat the effects of climate change. Rising tax revenues and federal relief packages have provided the governors with a lot of money to spend. In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little wants to invest $150 million in firefighting. New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is proposing $2.5 million to fund a climate change bureau. Meanwhile, Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah wants to spend $500 million for water conservation. And in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis says more than $400 million should go to monitoring carbon emissions, and electric buses and trucks. He’s also proposing $75 million for fire fighting after the state saw its most destructive wildfire in December. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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