PM News Brief: Don't Tread On Me Mask, Vacation Rentals Up & 468 Fire Starts | KUER 90.1

PM News Brief: Don't Tread On Me Mask, Vacation Rentals Up & 468 Fire Starts

Jun 24, 2020

Wednesday evening, June 24, 2020

STATE

State Auditor On Utah Colleges And Unreasonable Fees

Mandatory fees at at least two of Utah’s public universities have been on the rise over the past decade. But a state audit released Tuesday found that many should be reconsidered and potentially eliminated. The report also said that the system of higher education’s process for approving fee changes isn’t transparent and has given little opportunity for the public to weigh in. The Utah System of Higher Education said it will use the audit’s recommendations to decide which fees should be rolled into tuition and how to eliminate ones that fail the reasonableness test. Read the full story.Jon Reed

73,000 Voters Register As Republican Ahead Of June 30 Primary

Amid calls for Democrats and unaffiliated voters to register as Republicans ahead of Utah’s June 30 primary election, GOP registration has soared. The Republican primary is open only to voters registered with the party. In the past eight weeks, more than 73,000 people have registered with the GOP. That’s a 10% increase and much larger than increases during the same time period before primaries in 2018 and 2017. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Fire Season Off To Torrid Pace With 468 Fire Starts

There have been 468 fire starts in Utah so far this year and about 85% of them have been caused by humans. A tweet Wednesday from Utah Fire Info said that by this time last year the state had only 135 fire starts. The Utah Division of Forestry also announced Wednesday new restrictions on target shooting in Utah County. With the exception of one shooting range, all state land directly west of Utah Lake and all of West Mountain above 4,500 feet are closed to the use of steel ammunition, tracer ammunition and exploding targets. The order will be reviewed every two weeks and a decision will be made based on fire danger levels. — Ross Terrell

Utah Apologizes For “Don’t Tread on Me” Mask

A state official has apologized after a family received masks featuring a gun, the American flag and the phrase “don't tread on me.” The mask came as part of a state-sponsored program — A Mask For Every Utahn — which offers free face coverings to Utah residents during the coronavirus pandemic. KUTV reported that an official with the governor's office of economic development said it was a mistake and that the design was one of about 150 that were identified as potentially controversial and not to be delivered. Christine Passey-Spencer of Salt Lake City says she received the masks this week after ordering them from a state website two months ago. — Associated Press

Gov. Herbert And Face Covering Mandates

Gov. Gary Herbert announced Wednesday that he would likely grant Salt Lake County’s request to mandate face coverings in public but didn’t want to mandate it statewide, as he said that should be a bottom-up approach. Utah has seen large spikes in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks including 484 new cases announced Wednesday. Herbert’s going to meet with his unified command Thursday and thinks they will likely grant the request. However, he did mandate face coverings to be worn in state buildings like liquor stores and the DMV. — Sonja Hutson

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

REGION/NATION

Vacation Rentals Surge As Do COVID Cases

As COVID–19 resurges across the Mountain West, there’s a different kind of surge happening with vacation rental bookings. They are way up compared to this time last year. The report from the tracking firm AirDNA comes as many states are seeing some of the highest numbers of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic first impacted the region. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau