PM News Brief: August COVID Goal, Salt Lake Cooling Centers & Clearfield Mayor's Criticism | KUER 90.1

PM News Brief: August COVID Goal, Salt Lake Cooling Centers & Clearfield Mayor's Criticism

Jul 30, 2020

Thursday evening, July 30, 2020

STATE

New Report Analyzes Utah’s Juvenile Justice System

After a series of sweeping reforms that began in 2017, Utah now incarcerates fewer kids than other states and diverts more of them from the juvenile court system. But a report released Thursday found the system still has one glaring failure: it’s increasingly inequitable. White children make up nearly 75% of the general school-aged population, but less than half of the population in locked detention and less than 40% of the population in secure care. Read the full story.— Jon Reed

Delay November’s Election? Utah Elected Officials Say Pump The Brakes

Several Utah members of Congress, along with Gov. Gary Herbert, are speaking out against President Donald Trump’s call to delay November’s presidential election. Trump tweeted Thursday morning calling absentee voting fraudulent and suggesting pushing back the November election. Herbert said he feels no reason to postpone the election. Other Congressional members, like Sen. Mitt Romney and Rep. Chris Stewart weighed in against the idea. Others like Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ben McAdams didn’t comment. However, only Congress has the power to postpone an election. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Utah Inching Closer To August COVID Goal

Utah health officials reported 502 new COVID cases Thursday. The state continues to inch closer to its goal of fewer than 500 daily cases by Aug. 1. For the past week, Utah has averaged 508 per day, and Gov. Gary Herbert said that is a good sign but the state still has a long way to go. Herbert said he’s encouraged by the number of people wearing face masks in public and the role that’s played in cases decreasing. He called on people to continue to do so in large part to make sure schools can reopen on time this fall. — Ross Terrell

New Unemployment Claims Hit Lowest Levels Since Early March

New unemployment claims in Utah have hit their lowest level since the pandemic began, according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Workforce Services. More than 83,000 people are still receiving benefits, but fewer than 4,000 people filed new claims last week. Department officials said because of Utah’s economic improvement and the loss of the federal government’s $600 weekly assistance, it’ll soon end its policy of not asking people to prove they are looking for work. — Jon Reed

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Rocky Mountain Power To Continue Working With Customers

Rocky Mountain Power is extending some of its services that help customers who are having trouble paying their bills because of the coronavirus pandemic. The power company will continue to suspend late fees and will not cut off service if customers set up a payment plan for their past-due bills. The utility said it will continue with heightened outreach to let people know their options. Flexible payment plans and information about energy assistance are available by calling Rocky Mountain Power. — Caroline Ballard

NORTHERN UTAH

Clearfield Mayor Criticizes Federal HEALS Act

The mayor of Clearfield, Utah, is joining other mayors around the country in criticizing the HEALS Act put forth by Senate Republicans this week. Mayor Mark Shepherd called it “disheartening” to see that the new stimulus plan does not include additional federal aid to state and local governments. Shepherd said with people spending less on things like cars and homes, smaller communities are bringing in less tax revenue. He joins a number of other Utah groups that are unhappy with the plan, including Utah Health Policy Project and Utahns Against Hunger. The HEALS Act would send another round of funding directly to Americans, like the stimulus checks many people received this spring. — Caroline Ballard

Salt Lake County Reopens Cooling Centers

Salt Lake County is reopening some of its cooling centers amid a heat wave gripping Utah. The Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy and the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City will be open from noon to 7 p.m. for residents to go in and cool off. They are scheduled to stay open through Aug. 7. Social distancing protocols and mask wearing will be enforced. Temperatures are predicted to approach record levels, climbing above 100 degrees along the Wasatch Front, and even up to 104 in Provo. Neighbors are encouraged to check in on those who are most vulnerable, like the elderly. — Caroline Ballard

REGION/NATION

National Park Officials Investigation Incident At Teton 

Parks in the Mountain West region are seeing a surge in visitors. And while tourism can spell good news for struggling local economies, some are worried about increasing destruction to the landscape. Take Grand Teton National Park, where investigators are looking into a group of 50 or so unknown people who illegally rode dirt bikes through the park. The incident significantly damaged an area where a 10-year project is underway to restore habitat crucial to the ecosystem. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau