Health Science & Environment | KUER 90.1

Health Science & Environment

Photo of trees and a cliff side at Zion National Park
Nate Hegyi / KUER

On a recent cold and rainy morning at Zion National Park in Southern Utah, Andrew Smith and Blake Cubria throw a blue tarp on top of their tent to keep the water out. They’re in the midst of an impromptu vacation out West that began after they both lost their restaurant jobs in Chicago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated at 7:35 p.m. ET

In his Tuesday afternoon briefing with the coronavirus task force, President Trump couched earlier comments about the need to reopen the U.S. economy within weeks, emphasizing that the decision would ultimately be data driven and made in consultation with public health experts.

The president said he still wants Americans working again by Easter Sunday, something he first said during a virtual town hall with Fox News earlier in the day. But he was much more circumspect over whether that would be possible from a medical standpoint.

Walk into many grocery stores these days, and you’ll see two things: crowds and empty shelves. You may also notice narrow aisles and checkout lines that make it hard to practice the social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While many businesses are shutting down to help stop the spread of COVID-19, grocery stores don’t have that luxury. And grocery workers like cashiers don’t make that much - at most, around $15 an hour. But like health care workers, they’re considered essential.

Mientras los casos del coronavirus se siguen propagando por el Medio Oeste, sabemos que hay muchas preguntas acerca del virus -- incluyendo cómo evitar contagiarse. También sabemos que hay mucha información incorrecta acerca del virus, así que queremos ayudarte a separar los hechos de la ficción. Envíe sus preguntas a o envíe un mensaje de texto con la palabra “eleccion” al 73224, y encontraremos las respuestas. 

¿Que es el coronavirus y COVID-19?

For the past two weeks, Side Effects and Indiana Public Broadcasting have partnered to answer questions about coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Now, to reach a broader audience, we've put together a Spanish version of our coronavirus FAQ.

Feel free to share the information. There's plenty about the virus and how it spreads, who's at risk and how to take precautions. 

Photo of a sign in a restaurant window explaining that dine-in operations are suspended.
Renee Bright / KUER

California and New York have both ordered people to shelter in place or stay at home to help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Photo of people standing near a school bus and a cart holding packaged food.
Jon Reed / KUER

The coronavirus outbreak is still relatively under control in Utah compared to other states. As of Friday afternoon, 112 people in the state had tested positive for the disease but officials warn the worst is still ahead.

Photo of the Utah State Department of Health building.
Andrea Smardon / KUER

A Davis County man has died after testing positive for COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health announced Sunday. 

Department officials said he was at least 60-years-old and had underlying medical conditions. He had been hospitalized for two days before he died and tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday. 

Photo of Intermountain Healthcare Hospital
Brian Albers / KUER

While earthquakes may have jumped to the top of many Utahns’ minds following Wednesday’s event, we are still in the middle of a pandemic, with governments trying to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. More testing, more health orders, and more anxiety. To help wrap up the week, KUER’s Caroline Ballard was joined by news editor Ross Terrell. 

Photo of census forms mailed to residents
Arianna Pickard / KUER

The Census Bureau has suspended field operations across the U.S. and moved operation deadlines back in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But the bureau is still encouraging all households to respond as soon as possible — online, by phone, or by mail. 

A photo of the houses
Alena Mozhjer via iStock

The National Congress of American Indians warned reporters in a press conference Friday that COVID-19 is a “recipe for a disaster” for tribal nations. 

Photo of the Salt Lake City and County building
Brian Albers / KUER

Salt Lake County plans to modify its public health order that limits gatherings to 10 people in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Updated at 2:05 p.m. ET

The White House sought to show that it's in control of the sprawling coronavirus crisis on Friday even as it acknowledged enduring shortfalls in key supplies.

Administration officials also said they're imposing new controls on travel and restricting passage through the northern border with Canada and the southern border with Mexico following agreements with those governments.

Here were some key points from the latest briefing.

Too few tests

Photo of Piper Down pub from outside
Jon Reed / KUER

As the economic toll of social distancing weighs on bars and restaurants, Gov. Gary Herbert issued an executive order Wednesday evening to make it easier for them to return the alcohol they bought in March but can no longer sell.

Photo of a sign welcoming people to the city of Bluff in Utah
Wikimedia Commons

BLUFF — Hotel owner Jen Davila normally staffs up in the spring, ahead of the busy tourist season. But this year nothing is normal. 

Drawing of a man sitting down hugging his knees

Between a global pandemic and earthquakes, the times we live in can feel overwhelming. Social distancing is hard — maybe mentally most of all. KUER’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Utah Psychological Association President Dr. Kirt Cundick from his practice in Richfield. They talked about what people can do to best manage stress and anxiety.

Photo of park entrance.
Claire Jones / KUER

The Interior Department has announced it’s temporarily waiving entrance fees for recreation areas, national monuments and national parks. Secretary David Bernhardt said he wanted to make it easier for people to recreate on public lands.

A map of the segments
U.S. Geological Survey

On Wednesday, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook the Salt Lake Valley. To help explain the science behind this event, KUER’s Caroline Ballard turned to Dr. Jamie Farrell, a seismologist and research professor at the University of Utah. 

Photo of storefronts in downtown Salt Lake City

Utahns can now apply for disaster loan assistance because of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced on Tuesday.

Map of 3/18 earthquake
USGS Shakemap.

Updated 7:32 p.m. MDT 3/18/2020 

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake, centered 3 miles north of Magna, shook the Wasatch Front at 7:09 a.m. MDT Wednesday, the largest tremblor in Utah since 1992

Photo of debris on sidewalk.
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Updated 5:36 p.m. MDT 3/18/2020

The 5.7 earthquake that shook Salt Lake County and the region Wednesday morning had Utahns already anxious from the coronavirus even more on edge.  

Screengrab of a man speaking in a recorded press conference
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer Facebook page

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on Wednesday issued an executive order banning travel to the Navajo Nation. The move comes after two Navajo Nation residents on Tuesday tested positive for coronavirus, after traveling off the reservation. 

Updated at 4:18 p.m. ET

President Trump ordered the border with Canada partly closed on Wednesday and the Pentagon said it would join the coronavirus pandemic response with hospital ships, field treatment centers and medical supplies.

Photo of a road sign that welcomes visitors to moab
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Hotels in Moab will not admit new visitors for the next 30 days because of coronavirus, health officials announced Tuesday. 

Photo of Wasatch Brewery
Chelsea Naughton / KUER

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

Beer is big business in the Mountain West.

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

People experiencing homelessness are at an increased risk for complications from coronavirus because their underlying medical conditions often go untreated. 

Photo of a line of cars at the entrance of Arches National Park.
KUER File Photo

Updated 9:11 a.m. MDT 3/17/2020

“Please. Do. More. Now.” 

That's the message Moab Regional Hospital sent yesterday to Gov. Gary Herbert. In a letter, the hospital’s leadership asked Herbert to close all non-essential businesses in Moab for two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. They wrote that Moab could see up to 6,000 visitors next weekend, based on current hotel bookings. 

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has proposed sending money directly to Americans to help blunt the economic impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic, saying it's time to "go big" to boost the now-stalled economy.

Trump said he wants Congress to push through a major comprehensive package to help businesses and workers facing hardships — one of many abrupt shifts the administration has made this week as the scope of the pandemic has come into sharp focus.

Photo of empty chair on a ski lift
Chelsea Naughton / KUER

Restaurants, bars and major ski resorts have begun to temporarily shut down across the Mountain West this week in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. But economists said it’s still too early to fully understand the breadth of how these closures will impact the region’s booming tourism economy.

Photo of a woman in a blue dress standing behind a podium with microphones
Sonja Hutson / KUER

As people start to stay inside to slow the spread of coronavirus, Salt Lake City businesses have begun to feel it. In fact, 76% of Salt Lake City businesses have lost more than a tenth of their revenue due to the outbreak, according to a survey from the city. That impact is likely to grow after a Salt Lake County order banning dining in at restaurants goes into effect at 11 p.m. Monday.