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Dr. Bret Frey is an emergency room physician in Reno, Nevada, and he likens working in health care right now to fighting in a war. 

"I always thought that there was a good chance that World War III would happen in some form in my lifetime, I just didn't appreciate it was going to come in the form of a virus," Frey says.

Between a global pandemic, the economic downtown and civil unrest across the country, Americans are facing high levels of stress and uncertainty, and many are turning to video games for relief.

This reporter happens to be one of them. But can these virtual experiences help in the real world?

Photo of an instructor hosting online summer camp.
Courtesy Hogle Zoo

Normally when the last bell of the school year rings, students race out of the classroom, throw away old assignments and get excited for summer plans. But the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench in those plans, forcing families to reevaluate and make adjustments. 

Use it or lose it.

That saying is at the heart of how access to water is managed in the western U.S. Laws that govern water in more arid states, like Colorado, incentivize users to always take their full share from rivers and streams, or risk the state rescinding it. The threat comes in the form of a once-a-decade document that lists those users on the brink of losing their access to one of the region's most precious resources.

Illustration of two people on ladders painting a blue wall red
dane_mark / iStock.com

Who can unseat Utah’s lone Democratic congressman, Ben McAdams?

That’s the question before Republican voters as they pick which of four primary candidates will go up against McAdams in November to represent the 4th Congressional District. 

Photo of a lake surrounded by red rock
Courtesy of the National Park Service

The water has made development possible and is used for farms, homes and businesses. Meanwhile, recreation has risen to over 4 million annual visitors in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, with tourists bringing in over $420 million to local communities

Photo of Glen Canyon filled with water.
Pikist.com

When the Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1966, it was a major development for water management in the arid west. It would also transform Glen Canyon, sometimes described as America's “lost national park,” into the second largest man-made reservoir in the country. 

Photo of a large crowd of protesters in Salt Lake City
Kelsie Moore for KUER

Friday marks the fourth year that Utah has officially recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday. It dates back to 1865, when the last enslaved people were freed in Texas. African-Americans celebrate it as their Independence Day. But this year’s celebration comes as the nation and the state are gripped by protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

The pandemic has beef markets on a roller coaster, and Shohone, Idaho's Amie Taber is among the ranchers along for the ride.

 


Illustration of a student at a table with a backpack gathering dust.
Renee Bright / KUER

Audri Robbinson is worried about her kids. Like many parents, she became a second teacher to them after state leaders announced in-person classes would be temporarily suspended in March. But it's been an ongoing challenge to keep Vincent, 4th grade, and Viauna, 2nd grade, engaged outside the classroom. 

Photo of Tsosie standing next to posters of her classmates.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY — It’s a bright and blustery day at Monument Valley High School, and the graduation decorations in the courtyard keep blowing away.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

If you want a hearty breakfast in the small town of Thompson Falls, Montana, Minnie's Montana Cafe has you covered.

 


The United States is seeing its highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression. And nurses, doctors and other health care workers are not immune to pay cuts and furloughs.

Photo of Meds in Motion building in Draper.
Andrew Becker / KUER

The pharmacy that Utah contracted with to buy controversial malaria medications to treat COVID-19 has a history of problems identified by state investigators and inspectors, according to interviews and records obtained by KUER. 

Illustration of a blue donkey wearing a red elephant mask.
Renee Bright / KUER

25-year-old Jess Esplin is an unaffiliated voter who describes herself as “progressive” and usually votes for Democrats. But she has a plan as she sits down at her computer.

Chris Descheemaeker ranches black angus, red angus cross with her family outside of Lewistown, Montana. The coronavirus pandemic, she says, comes after a few tough winters and an already tough market.


Every state is wrestling with the tension between reopening economies and protecting communities from COVID-19. Some industries have remained open all along. There are the obvious ones, like grocery stores and hospitals. Then there are others, like mining.

Photo of a woman wearing a mask walking through a gated fence to meet waiting family members.
Andrew Becker / KUER

Pedro Viera had one thing on his mind: getting to Las Vegas. And he needed the judge to know it.


This story is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

It's a sunny, spring afternoon and Holly Spriggs and her teenage son, Sawyer Michaud, are digging around in her giant garden outside of Lander, Wyo.

"We're working on planting some potatoes and onions before we get some moisture here," she says. 

Spriggs is having a great time, but Sawyer would rather be snowmobiling.

Illustration of a video classroom.
Toltemara / iStock.com

Teaching can be a hard job. Add in a global pandemic and statewide campus closures, and it becomes even harder. Now, with those closures extended at least through the end of the academic year, teachers like Amelia Landay have a long road ahead. 

As so many telecommuters, teachers, college students and children work and learn from home, there have been fears that the Internet wouldn't be up to the task. But so far, it seems to be largely coping with the increased traffic.


Photo of two men in suits greeting one another with an elbow bump. One man is wearing a mask while the other holds a mask in his hand.
Jeffrey Allred / Deseret News Pool Photo

At the beginning of March, before Utah had any confirmed coronavirus cases, Gov. Gary Herbert stood at a podium in the state’s emergency operations center in the basement of the Capitol. He had an announcement. 

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Shelby, Mont. is home to a lot of wheat and barley fields, a decent high school football team, and an Amtrak train that passes through town twice a day. It's a place where almost everyone knows everyone. 

"The people here are fantastic," says William Kiefer, CEO of the only hospital in the county that offers 24/7 emergency medical services. "There's a huge sense of community."

So when people began getting sick and even dying from COVID-19, it hit hard. 

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

A small-town newspaper in the region that lost most of its staff due to the economic impacts of COVID–19 received a helping hand Friday. The Sandpoint Reader in North Idaho, a free weekly, was able to temporarily rehire its employees for the next six weeks using an influx of reader donations and the stimulus package's Paycheck Protection Program.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative. 

Sitting at his desk within the small office of the Sandpoint Reader, a weekly newspaper in northern Idaho, publisher Ben Olson is exhausted. 


This story is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

On a recent rainy day in Rockville, Utah, cars roared down the highway as Dutch cyclists Marica van der Meer and Bas Baan huddled together underneath the awning of a post office, trying to fix a flat tire.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a discussion across the country about whose work is essential, and whose isn't.

Forced to choose which businesses remain open or closed, governments that less than a decade ago deemed cannabis illegal are now treating access to it as essential during the crisis.

A few weeks ago, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak encouraged all nonessential businesses to close their doors. Then, a few days later, on March 20, he ordered them to do so.

“If your business is nonessential to providing sustenance and for the everyday safety, health and wellbeing of Nevadans, you must shut down,” Sisolak said.

But what’s an essential business? Beyond obvious ones such as hospitals and grocery stores, there’s no simple answer.

Photo of Monument Valley High School Sign that reads
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah — Like most parents, Sheila Holiday is struggling to teach her three children math at home while schools are closed because of COVID-19. But unlike many other parents, she can’t just go online and watch a YouTube video to help explain calculus and fractions, because of where she lives. 

Renee Bright / KUER

Accidental cross talk on video calls has become common for many Utahns now working at home. But things can get a whole lot more complicated when politicians and governmental bodies hold public meetings virtually. 

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