Health Science & Environment | KUER 90.1

Health Science & Environment

Lexi Peery/ KUER News

Over 40% of COVID-19 cases in Utah are Latinos but they only make up about 14% of Utah’s population. Often a lack of access to health care services leaves these populations vulnerable. 

Photo of Canal Fire.
Utah Fire Info via Casey Sutherland

Utah’s official fire season runs from June 1 to October 31. Here’s a round-up of helpful information to guide you through it.

Covid 19 in Utah
Renee Bright / KUER

Updated 12:46 p.m. MDT 7/12/2020

Total Cases: 29,484 | Total Hospitalizations: 1,824 | Current Hospitalizations: 209 | Deaths: 215

Utah reported on Sunday 629 new cases of COVID-19. That’s a 2.2% increase in total cases from the day before. For the past week, the positive rate is 10%. The state reported three new deaths. So far, 413,058 people have been tested. 

Ongoing COVID Spike

Photo of a row of colorful houses
Jason Finn via iStock

Homeownership among Black Americans is at its lowest level since 1968. That’s according to a new study out of Brigham Young University and published in the journal Race and Social Problems. As of last year, just 41% of Black Americans owned homes, compared to nearly 75% of white Americans. KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with the study’s author, assistant professor of sociology at BYU, Jacob Rugh, about the implications of those numbers. 

Stock image of three doctors walking in a hospital hallway
kzenon via iStock

Utah’s medical community is calling on state officials to mandate wearing face masks in public. In a press conference Friday, representatives from the state’s largest health care systems said they’re concerned about recent spikes in coronavirus case numbers, and worry the state’s hospitals could soon be overrun. 

Charismatic is hardly the best word to describe the humpback chub, a fish with a frowny eel face jammed onto a sportfish body in a way that suggests evolution has a sense of humor. Nor did tastiness build a fan base for this "trash fish" across its natural habitat throughout the Colorado River Basin. But, in 1973, the humpback chub became famous by winning federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Photo of Gov. Gary Herbert wearing a face covering.
Laura Seitz / Deseret News / Pool Photo

Gov. Gary Herbert announced Thursday that he will not mandate face coverings in public places across the state, the day after the state reported a record number of daily cases. Herbert instead issued a “challenge” to Utahns to wear face masks in public and comply with social distancing guidelines, to get to less than 500 new daily cases by August 1. 

Photo of a dam stopping water between red rock cliffs
istock.com / sjgh

Draft plans for the Lake Powell Pipeline have the project running through sacred and culturally significant lands to the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.

Photo of an empty soccer stadium
Wikimedia Commons

Once the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the U.S., major events like conferences and concert tours were postponed or outright canceled. But as Utah reopens, pulling back restrictions on large gatherings, some are beginning to come back. 

Photo of cars lined up on a snowy road.
Chelsea Naughton / KUER

Plans are moving ahead to tackle traffic on one of Utah’s most crowded ski roads — LIttle Cottonwood Canyon, which takes drivers from the east side of Salt Lake County up to ski resorts like Alta and Snowbird. 

Photo of an empty classroom
iStock.com / Ridofranz

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally altered education in Utah, when learning was forced from the classroom to the computer. For some teachers, the ongoing challenges of online learning, along with an uncertain health risk come fall, have them questioning if they can stick with teaching. 

A woman in a red vest looks at a display of missing persons posters.
Courtesy of Meskee Yatsayte

State and federal officials are launching new efforts to address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Utah, after a nationwide study called attention to the issue in 2018. 

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. 

Photo of a house in a neighborhood
Pablo Zarate / For KUER

Utah has provided nearly $134,000 in rental assistance to 112 people since mid-May, when the governor’s eviction freeze ended. 

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.

Photo of cars in Zion National Park.
Lexi Peery / KUER

The shuttle service at Zion National Park will resume July 1 after shutting down in March due to the coronavirus. 

Photo of the outside of the University of Utah Hospital building
Wikimedia Commons

Utah set a record high of new COVID cases on Friday, when health officials reported 676 new cases. And over the weekend, another 1,050 were reported. Now, hospitals are preparing to make room for more patients.

Photo of a ski lift on a snowy mountain
Wikimedia Commons

Ski resorts in Utah that depend on seasonal foreign workers might have problems finding the labor they need this winter season, due to the recent suspension of certain work visas.

Phot of a road sign
Joe Shlabotnik via Creative Commons

The City of Moab is asking the Bureau of Land Management to cancel plans to lease large swaths of public land around Moab to oil and gas developers.

Photo of Gary Herbert wearing a mask
Pool photo

Following weeks of high rates of COVID-19 cases in Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert announced Wednesday he will not be making a statewide mandate on mask wearing. He did say he would be signing an executive order requiring face coverings in all state facilities, including institutions of higher education and state run liquor stores. 

Photo of a woman standing in a crowd of people holding a sign that says miss utah supports equal rights for all byu students
Rachel Slawson's Instagram account

Pageants have a reputation of being a traditional bastion of who and what a woman should be — but a winner this year is breaking the mold. In January, Rachel Slawson was crowned Miss Utah USA. She is the first ever openly queer state titleholder for the Miss USA pageant. KUER’s Caroline Ballard caught up with her this Pride Month to talk about what the last few months have been like.

Updated at 2:50 p.m. ET

At a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health and other federal officials said that no one had told them — including President Trump — to slow down testing for the coronavirus. The statements came after Trump has repeatedly said that more testing would lead to more infections being revealed.

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 four people standing behind a table holding medical equipment.
Courtesy of Nate Edwards / Brigham Young University

A team of recent graduates from Brigham Young University have designed a low-cost, portable ventilator. Originally intended to help newborns in developing countries, the design just received a fast-tracked approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and can now be used in the fight against COVID-19. 

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. 

Graphic illustration of a man speaking from a smartphone screen
Renee Bright

June is Pride month, but Utah’s annual parade and festival have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In Nevada, Investors Eye Underground Water Storage As A Path To Profits

Jun 18, 2020

Twenty-two miles outside of the nearest town (Wells, pop. 1,246), graffiti on a crumbling hotel wall reads: "Home on the Strange." Down a dirt road, there's an abandoned car. An arch stands at the entrance of a dilapidated school. It's what is left of a town that lost most of its water rights.

Around the turn of the last century, New York investors established Metropolis, Nevada as a farming community. By 1912, they had constructed a dam. They built a hotel, a school and an events center. The Southern Pacific Railroad constructed an office and built a line to the town.

Then the water ran dry.

The Utah State Capitol.
Nicole Nixon / KUER

Organizations that advocate for local government informed a Utah legislative committee Wednesday that they have limited resources to address the coronavirus pandemic. 

Central Arizona has been booming -- more people, more houses, more need for water. There's also a long-term drought, and less water to buy from the Central Arizona Project canal system . It's leading Phoenix exurbs to cast about, looking for new buckets.

Other regions of the state say: don't come here.

For five years, Zay Lopez tended vegetables, hayfields and cornfields, chickens, and a small flock of sheep here on the western edge of Colorado's Grand Valley - farming made possible by water from the Colorado River.

Lopez has a passion for agriculture, and for a while, he carved out a niche with his business, The Produce Peddler, trucking veggies seven hours away to a farmers market in Pinedale, Wyoming.

Lopez also moonlights as a Realtor, with his finger on the pulse of the local real estate market. A few years ago, he noticed a strange new phenomenon. Much of the irrigated agricultural land sold in the valley - such as parcels just down the road from his farm - wasn't being bought by another farmer. Instead, his new neighbor was Water Asset Management, a New York City-based hedge fund with deep pockets.

Pages