Health Science & Environment | KUER 90.1

Health Science & Environment

The eroded spires and red and white canyon walls of Bryce Canyon National Park.
Courtesy of National Park Service

ST. GEORGE — Bryce Canyon National Park closed indefinitely to the public on Tuesday afternoon, National Park Service officials announced in a statement.

Photo of University of Utah entrance sign.
Lee Hale / KUER

With online classes now the norm for most of the country’s schools and universities, students are adapting to learn in new ways. At the same time, many of the traditional benchmarks required in college applications — standardized testing and extracurricular activities — have largely been postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Photo of cribs and chairs in a large room
Division of Emergency Management

State officials unveiled one of Utah’s major contingency plans Monday in the fight against COVID-19 — 260 makeshift hospital beds that could be used if state hospitals are overrun. 

An elderly navajo lady wearing a turquoise necklace sits in a chair
Courtesy of Holly DeJolie

BLUFF — Holly DeJolie was getting worried. 

She hadn’t heard from her mother and brother for a week, despite calling them several times a day. The two lived together in a three-bedroom house on Cradleboard Mesa in Navajo Mountain, Utah—about a mile from the Arizona border. They had called her the week of March 8 to tell her they were both having chest pains, DeJolie said. 

woman in park rollerskating with mask
Elaine Clark / KUER

A Salt Lake City nursing home has Utah’s first confirmed incident of community transmission of COVID-19 at a care facility, state and local health officials announced Saturday, the day after officials confirmed the first case in the Department of Corrections.

Screengrab of a video of Phillip Francisco speaking while sitting behind a desk
Screengrab / Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer Facebook page

The Navajo Nation is stepping up enforcement of a curfew put in place earlier this week.

The sun sets on a red and white banded canyon wall, as a river runs along the valley floor below.
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — Zion National Park closed indefinitely on Friday in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Finding Columbia spotted frogs in Utah's mountains is not easy. But it's possible, with a guide like Paula Trater. She leads a visitor down a dirt path, then through mucky wetlands filled with cattails and a riot of birdsong.

Photo of fence outside Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah.
Kelsie Moore / KUER

Updated 6:41 p.m. MDT 4/2/2020: This story has been updated to reflect an announcement from the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office Thursday. 

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said Thursday the state’s first inmate has tested positive for COVID-19. The inmate was one of six to have been tested for the virus out of roughly 1,400 countywide and is currently under isolation. 51 other inmates from the same unit have also been moved to medical quarantine cells at Metro Jail from the smaller Oxbow facility. 

Photo of a man standing behind a podium speaking
Screengrab from video via Facebook Live

A state partnership with a group of tech companies will get Utah close to its goal of 7,000 coronavirus tests per day in the next couple of weeks, Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday. 

Photo illustration of unemployment application forms
tommaso79 / iStock

Utah, along with the rest of the country, continues to see huge spikes in the number of workers filing for unemployment claims. 

Photo illustration of an eviction notice taped to a door
Anastasiia_New / iStock

Updated 9:45 a.m. MDT 4/2/2020

Gov. Gary Herbert issued an executive order Wednesday allowing Utah renters to defer rent payments and offering eviction protection until May 15.

Phot of young girls in front of shelves of canned goods.
Courtesy Emily Cottam.

When coronavirus hit Utah, people started panic buying — stocking up on food, supplies and lots of toilet paper. Empty shelves have become a defining image of the pandemic. 

But for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stockpiling food and supplies is nothing new. Some are even using their food storage to help others in this moment of crisis. 

Photo of the salt lake city downtown library
Brian Grimmett

For entertainment during social distancing, you might be relying on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and Disney+, but what about your local library?

Screengrab showing Jonathan Nez sitting at a disk speaking into a microphone
Screengrab from video via Facebook

The Navajo Nation is imposing a nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on all residents in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus. It went into effect on Monday at 8 p.m, but it’s not yet enforceable, according to the Navajo Nation police chief.

Photo of medical gloves and a mask
Yevhenii Orlov via iStock

Proper protection for health care workers is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, but supplies are running low. To learn more about the basics of personal protective equipment, KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Dr. Rachael Jones, an industrial hygiene expert who teaches at the University of Utah. 

An empty road approaches a park entrance booth, which is out of sight. A rocky ridge rises up in the background.
David Fuchs / KUER

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks closed indefinitely on Saturday, following calls from local governments and public health departments to temporarily shut down the parks to visitors due to coronavirus concerns. 

Photo of a woman standing in front of an indoor rock climbing wall
Nate Hegyi / KUER

The U.S. sport climbing team’s hopes and aspirations are on pause after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed for a year due to the COVID–19 pandemic. 

As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the wildfire season, it must also confront COVID-19.

Already the agency's put a stop to prescribed burning. And it says it will continue fire suppression and other activities with guidance from the CDC.

Jake Billington has worked at the livestock auction at the Twin Falls Livestock Commission in southern Idaho for 28 years.


Photo of a tent in the foreground at a developed campsite by a lake with campers in the background
Carolyn Dailey for KUER

San Juan County’s health department announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 Friday morning. Minutes later, the department issued an order to curb tourism in the county. 

“The snow’s going sideways, it’s swirling,” said Billy Barr, from the abandoned silver mine he lives in almost 10,000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains.

We’re all social distancing these days, and it’s unclear when exactly that will end. But Barr has been doing this for almost 50 years. He’s the only full-time resident of Gothic, Colorado. 

“I'm the mayor and chief of police,” he said. “I hold elections every year but I don't tell anybody when they are, so it works out really well.”

Photo of a man in a red jacket wearing a mask and working
Courtesy of SugarHouse Industries

Companies across Utah have been suspending their normal operations due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, some businesses, like Ogden’s Own and Sugarhouse Industries, have shifted their production to meet the growing demand for gloves and masks and even things like sanitizer. 

iStock.com

Since people in Utah began widely practicing social distancing a few weeks ago, local law enforcement has reported a spike in domestic violence calls. But that number only reflects part of the problem, since many people don’t report abuse to police. KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Jennifer Oxborrow, the executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, who says the global pandemic is intensifying abusive relationships.

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

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. continues to increase, Utah’s hospitals and doctors are preparing for a surge that many predict is inevitable. 

Updated at 6:37 p.m. ET

President Trump told governors his administration is working on publishing guidelines for state and local governments to use to determine whether to increase or relax social distancing rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement came ahead of the White House's regular news conference on its response to the pandemic.

Illustration of a woman with long blue hair hugging her knees sitting in a cage
Ponomariova_Maria / istock.com

In light of statewide recommendations to remain at home in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, domestic abuse calls have been on the rise over the last two weeks, according to the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Updated at 1:50 a.m. ET Thursday

The White House's pandemic task force convened another briefing on Wednesday afternoon amid a tense denouement for legislation aimed at helping an economy poleaxed by the disaster.

Last-minute objections on Wednesday delayed the Senate vote until late in the evening, when it passed on a vote of 96 to 0.

Updated at 11:47 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2 trillion relief package Wednesday night designed to alleviate some of the worst effects of the swift economic downturn currently underway as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the 96-0 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told lawmakers, "Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory."

Photo of the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City
Wikimedia Commons

Erica Ridd worked at a restaurant called Punch Bowl Social in Salt Lake City until last Monday — when she got an email telling her she’d been laid off. 

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