Health Science & Environment | KUER 90.1

Health Science & Environment

A woman in personal protective equipment stands in the driveway of a health clinic in Monument Valley.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

BLANDING – As a triage nurse in Monument Valley, Utah, Amber Rasmussen stands in the parking lot all day, testing people for COVID-19. 

On a typical day, she sees 20 to 30 patients, many of whom arrive at the Utah Navajo Health System clinic with severe COVID-19 symptoms. 

Photo of a campus map on the Utah State University campus
Brian Albers / KUER

Public universities throughout Utah and the country received money as part of the federal CARES Act, an economic relief package in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Institutions, though, are required to disburse half of that funding to students. 

An aerial shot shows an audience seated on a lawn watching an outdoor stage
Courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival

ST. GEORGE — Canceling the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2020 season because of COVID-19 was a decision executive producer Frank Mack hoped he wouldn’t have to make.

Photo of the arch
Jan Willem Broekema via Creative Commons

BLUFF — Business has completely dried up at Canyonlands Jeep Adventures in Moab. 

Photo of a sign that says Brigham Young University on the university's campus
istock / Wolterk

The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic’s effect has been vast. It hasn’t only hit those already in the job market, it’s also prevented others from getting in. 

Photo of houses in Park City

In mid March, Summit County reported the first known case of COVID-19 via community spread. Soon after, its health department issued the state’s first stay-at-home order March 25. By then, the county’s peak tourism season was nearly over, and the order required all out-of-town visitors to leave by April 1. 

Photo of the Utah state capitol dome
Austen Diamond / KUER

During April’s virtual special session, the Utah Legislature created the Public Health and Economic Emergency Commission to make policy recommendations to the governor on how the state should respond to the coronavirus pandemic. 

A snow-capped mound of red earth rises up on the horizon.
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — To Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover, the Red Knoll is a special place.

Photo of the entrance to the fairpark
Wikimedia Commons

Minority communities are disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, according to demographic data from the Utah Department of Health. Early efforts to spread information about the virus failed to reach non-English speaking communities, but now several initiatives are underway to target hotspots in vulnerable communities, including one launching this weekend.

A winding river cuts through red rock canyons
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance courtesy photo

The Bureau of Land Management is considering leasing over 100,000 acres of public land around Moab to energy companies, raising concerns about effects on both tourism and conservation efforts. 

Photo of northeast quadrant wetlands.
Brian Albers / KUER

The Utah Inland Port Authority met with environmental, business and other stakeholders Wednesday to discuss its strategy moving forward.

Photo of a sign that says airbnb on the outside of a building
Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine via Flickr

More than 14,000 gig workers and self-employed people have applied for unemployment in Utah over the past two weeks, including people working for ridesharing apps and Airbnb. 

A jagged series of red and white cliffs runs toward the horizon.
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — When Bryce Canyon National Park opened Wednesday morning, there were cars waiting outside the gate.

Photo of census forms mailed to residents
Arianna Pickard / KUER

The Census Bureau will resume counting homes across Utah in person this month, after pausing field operations in mid-March due to COVID-19. The Bureau originally planned to restart the count in June, but it deemed Utah one of 13 states where it’s safe to begin early. 

Noxious gas, rolling giant eyeballs, being trapped in a perpetually falling elevator. The pandemic is sparking a world-wide increase in vivid dreams. And people are sharing them on websites like I Dream of COVID and across social media.

Photo of two people sitting on a rug.
Courtesy of Hanifa Dhedhy

Nights during the month of Ramadan are usually busy, with hundreds of people gathering at the Utah Islamic Center to pray and eat together.

Photo of the entrance of a new shelter.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

As of Monday, 124 clients at the Men’s Resource Center in South Salt Lake have tested positive for coronavirus. A handful of cases have also been confirmed at other homeless resource centers throughout Salt Lake County. 

Photo of Angela Dunn speaking into a microphone
Pool photo

It’s been nearly two months since Utah’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. Since then, life has changed dramatically with extensive social distancing, school closures and more than 5,000 cases. Friday though, the state shifted from its “red” or high risk response phase to “orange,” or moderate. 

Photo of the bottom of an airplane
Brian Albers / KUER

As Utah and several other states begin to reopen sections of their economies, the U.S. Travel Association released guidelines Monday for how to safely bring the nation’s tourism industry back to life. 

Photo of a man in a hospital bed
Courtesy of Neal Murphy

As the spread of coronavirus in Utah appears to be slowing, state hospitals are still treating a small, but steady stream of patients with severe cases. 

A young Navajo girl works on a laptop in a living room decorated with Native American weavings
Courtesy of Celia Black

Briana Lee is a junior at Monument Valley High School. She received her hotspot last week, and said it’s already helping her get more work done. But after three or four hours, she usually maxes out her daily data allotment. 

Photo of the inside of a restaurant advertising waffles
Courtesy of Bethany Teeples

Some non-essential businesses, like gyms and restaurants, have gotten the green light to open Friday. But resuming operations isn’t as simple as just opening the doors.

Science In Utah: A Community Effort

May 1, 2020
Photo of a firebug
Waza_67 via Pixabay

Scientists face some challenges when it comes to data collection — equipment is expensive and funding isn’t always available. But museums, government agencies and other institutions are working with their communities to solve these problems across the world and right here in Utah. Citizen science uses volunteers of all ages — from school kids to retirees — to collect data.

Photo of three people and a dog sitting on a front porch
Courtesy of David Sullivan

Throughout Utah, communities have been finding creative ways to cheer each other up through the pandemic. There have been dog parades, bear hunts and sunny sidewalk chalk messages. One neighborhood is documenting the experience through photos.

A vista looking out over a dirt road, rows of pine trees and white canyon walls.
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — Best Friends Animal Society is the new owner of roughly 1,600 acres of former state trust lands outside of Kanab.

A young child removes a bottle of a cleaning product from below a sink.
Antonio_Diaz via iStock

The Utah Poison Control Center has seen a rise in the number of calls coming in about cleaning products, hand sanitizers and disinfectants.

Photo of a red awning over a shop window that reads "Red rock bakery and cafe"
Courtesy of Howard Trenholm

It's been more than a month since Red Rocky Bakery owner Howard Trenholm closed his business in Moab because he wasn't making enough money. But now that tourists will be allowed to visit again, he's getting ready to reopen — reluctantly. 

Photo of white pills spilling out of an orange prescription bottle.
Moussa81 /

A progressive advocacy group has alleged Draper-based pharmacy Meds in Motion charged the state too much for 20,000 doses of a controversial anti-malaria drug used to treat COVID-19.

Photo of empty chairs in a hospital corridor
Михаил Руденко via iStock

Utah’s hospitals have seen a sharp reduction in patient admissions over the last two months. Across the Intermountain Healthcare system, for example — the largest in Utah — 50% fewer patients are going to the emergency room, according to Dr. Adam Balls, emergency department chair at Intermountain Medical Center.

A view of the desert, seen from a mountain top
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — Washington County will tiptoe towards some kind of normalcy on May 1.