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PM News Brief: COVID long hauler program, 39 more deaths & catalytic converter crackdown

COVID-19 virus SARS-COV-2 OMICRON strain, covid-19 South African variant B.1.1.529 omicron
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Intermountain Healthcare announced a new program Monday for COVID-19 long haulers. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Monday, Feb. 14, 2022

State

Trans sports bill is back in the Utah Legislature

There’s a new version of a transgender sports bill in the Utah Legislature — and no one on either side likes it. H.B. 11, which passed along party lines in the House Health and Human Services Committee Monday, creates a commission to evaluate the issue on an athlete-by-athlete basis. Under the legislation, if an athlete’s gender marker on their birth certificate doesn’t match the sport they want to play, a commission is called together. It would have seven members, including a doctor specializing in gender-identity health care and a sports physiologist who are both appointed by the speaker of the House. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson 

Utah reports nearly 40 new COVID deaths 

Utah health officials said Monday 39 more people have died from COVID-19. More than 20 of those deaths happened at least a month ago. Utah’s health department said in a statement “these deaths are a stark, sad reminder of the human toll COVID-19 continues to take in our communities.” Officials reported about 3,100 new cases. That’s a three-day total dating back to Friday. Hospitalizations and the state’s positivity rate are both down compared to last Monday. — Ross Terrell 

Intermountain Healthcare launches new program for COVID long haulers

Intermountain Healthcare announced a new program Monday for COVID-19 long haulers — people who are experiencing symptoms months after they’ve recovered from the virus. Intermountain's program is designed to prioritize resources and care for Utahns who have experienced ongoing symptoms for 12 weeks or longer. Doctors say many people with extended symptoms feel frustrated and need validation that their condition is real and there’s hope. IHC said surveys with patients show between 30-50% of people who get COVID have symptoms for months — even though the virus is no longer in their body. If you are a long hauler, you can contact Intermountain’s new program at 801-408-5888. — Sudha Reynolds

Utah Legislature may crack down on catalytic converter thefts

A statewide analysis of police records from the attorney general's office shows the theft of catalytic converters from cars in Utah has surged by 585% over the last three years. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that as individuals and businesses continue to foot big-ticket repair bills for such thefts, the Legislature is considering a bill that would better catalog the devices and help clamp down on their resale. A catalytic converter is part of a vehicle's exhaust system, which filters emissions coming out of a car's tailpipe. The converters contain small amounts of precious metals that have spiked in value lately, which is what is believed to have caused the uptick in theft. — Associated Press

Region/Nation

Bureau of Indian Affairs looks into criminal justice reform 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs announced reforms to its criminal justice system, including more training on how to perform death investigations. That follows a Mountain West News Bureau and NPR investigation into more than a dozen deaths in tribal jails. There are also ongoing questions about the firm hired to review the deaths for BIA. Some members of Congress have been critical of the BIA’s choice because the firm was led by a former agency official. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau 

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