Health Science & Environment | KUER 90.1

Health Science & Environment

Updated at 4:14 p.m. ET

President Trump announced new coronavirus guidelines for at least the next 15 days, including that Americans should avoid groups of more than 10 people.

In a briefing at the White House on Monday, he also urged people to avoid discretionary travel and going out to bars, restaurants and food courts. He recommended that schools close.

The stricter guidelines marked a shift for the president, who has repeatedly stated that the virus is under control.

"Whatever it takes, we're doing," Trump said.

Photo of a woman talking at a podium.
Jon Reed / KUER

Updated 11:27 a.m. MDT 3/15/2020

Gov. Gary Herbert announced Friday afternoon that all public schools in the state will be dismissed starting Monday, March 16. 

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

President Trump on Friday declared that the coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency, a designation that frees up as much as $50 billion in federal assistance to state and local governments overwhelmed by the spread of the virus, and makes it easier to surge medical resources to areas that need them most.

Three photos cropped together to show the Southern Utah University, University of Utah and Utah Valley University campuses
KUER file

On Thursday, state officials made recommendations for all public universities to suspend large gatherings, restrict non-essential travel and move classes online to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Photo of a white sign with a drawing of a handshake with a red line through it.
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Updated 4:12 p.m. MST 3/12/2020

When Rep. Melissa Ballard, R-North Salt Lake City, started working on a bill to expand telehealth services last year, she was focused on making it easier for people to get treatment for things like eye infections and rashes. 

Photo of runners crossing a finish line with the sign Canyonlands Half Marathon against a red rock background.
Ken Lund / CC via Flickr

Updated 2:21 p.m. MDT 3/12/2020: Governor Gary Herbert announced Thursday afternoon that the state recommends limiting mass gatherings, defined as events with over 100 people in one room or building. That recommendation is in effect beginning Monday, March 16, and continuing for at least two weeks.

Photo of the Flaming Gorge dam.
Wikimedia Commons

Legislation to study the cost of diverting water from the Green River to the Wasatch Front is headed for a final vote in the State Senate this week. But opponents say the potential project is misguided. 

Photo of press conference.
Utah Coronavirus Task Force Twitter

Officials with the Utah Department of Health announced the first positive test of COVID-19 in the state Friday night. The announcement came just hours after Gov. Gary Herbery declared a state of emergency amid fears of an outbreak.

Photo of Utah Governor Gary Herbert speaking into a microphone
2018 pool photo / Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus on Friday.

Photo of a water tower and power lines
Michael Cramer / Flickr

New Report Spotlights The Rural West’s Connectivity Gap 

A report published this week by the National Association of Counties found that more than 75% of rural counties had internet and cellular connections that fell well below minimum government standards. The problem is especially acute in the Mountain West. For the most part, only wealthy enclaves like Jackson, Wyoming, have good broadband, the study’s connectivity maps show.

Photo of people gathered in the hall of the Utah Capitol building
Jon Reed / KUER

Tourism is a big business in Utah. In 2018 alone, the industry generated $9.75 billion and brought in travelers from all over the world. That included a record number of visitors to the state’s national parks and ski resorts. 

Photo of mushrooms on the ground
Candace Bever / Agricultural Research Service

Wild mushroom foragers in the Mountain West may soon have a new and easy way to tell if their pickings are poisonous. 

An outdoor theater is perched on a pavilion underneath a blue, partly cloudy sky.
Courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival

CEDAR CITY — The Utah Shakespeare Festival will be getting a bit more British over the next few years. 

Photo of Utah Governor Gary Herbert speaking at a press conference about coronavirus preparations
Sonja Hutson / KUER

Standing in Utah’s Emergency Operations Center Monday afternoon, state Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn made it abundantly clear: Coronavirus will likely spread throughout the state. 

Photo of a man standing in front of a display case
Jon Reed / KUER

Dragonfly Wellness, Utah’s first medical cannabis pharmacy, officially opened for business Monday. 

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

Utah’s medical cannabis program is set to launch this weekend, with patients able to apply for a medical marijuana card online as early as Sunday morning. 

Photo of the truck at the mine
Peabody Energy

The Trump administration controversially reopened public lands to new coal leases on Wednesday, saying the move won’t significantly impact the environment — a finding conservation groups call laughable. 

an ancient stone structure nestled inside a red rock cliff
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONTICELLO — Planning for the shrunken Bears Ears National Monument is moving forward, despite protests from the tribes involved in the monument’s designation. 

Animated image depicting dinosaurs
Courtesy of the Utah Department of Natural Resources

The Utah Geological Survey (UGS) packed up and moved an 18,000-pound sandstone block full of dinosaur bones Wednesday.

Photo of pigs on a farm

It looks like President Trump’s partial trade deal with China won’t bring in the promised $40 billion or so worth of agricultural trade for the U.S. this year. 

Photo of two women looking at presctriptions.
Jon Reed / KUER

When Stephanie Arceneaux and Raune Palmer met for the first time, it was to trade prescription drugs. 

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

ST. GEORGE — Warming temperatures are causing diminishing flows for the Colorado River, according to a new study published Thursday. 

A warming climate is already causing river flows in the Southwest’s largest watershed to decline, according to a new study from federal scientists. And it finds that as warming continues it’s likely to get worse. 

Photo of bikers on the Slick Rock trail
Wikimedia Commons

Updated 1:21 p.m. MT 2/19/20

MOAB — The Sand Flats recreation area is home to two of Moab’s main attractions: the world-famous Slickrock Bike Trail and the Hell’s Revenge Jeep Trail. Together, they draw thousands of visitors here every year, contributing millions of dollars to the local economy.

Photo of Mark and Jerri Jorgensen on the ship
Courtesy of Mark Jorgensen

In late January, St. George residents Mark and Jerri Jorgensen went on a cruise to Asia. Things didn’t quite turn out as planned though. 

Photo of Peter Stamos and Jon Westling
Jon Reed / KUER

Listen to the story here.

Utah has a mixed record when it comes to caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to Case for Inclusion 2020, a national report from United Cerebral Palsy and the ANCOR Foundation which measures how well states are supporting people with disabilities. 

A sandy two-track road cuts through stands of pinyon pine and juniper trees.
David Fuchs / KUER

Listen to this story in this KUER news brief.

ST. GEORGE — Lawyers representing the state of Utah and Kane County made their closing arguments in the so-called “bellwether roads” case on Wednesday.

Photo of a man and dog in a hemp field with mountains.
Matt Herp for KUER

On a recent cold and snowy day in Logan, Nathan Snow’s harvest was in full swing. He wore sunglasses to shield his eyes from rows and rows of bright lights growing hundreds and hundreds of bushy plants. This hemp “farm” is located inside a large, nondescript warehouse where the air smelled tropical and loamy. 

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
KUER File Photo

Updated 11:33 a.m. MST 2/15/2020

The recently released management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments, already slammed by tribes and environmentalists, may also violate federal law, according to a new law review article by two University of Utah researchers. 

A field of sagebrush glows in the morning light. A mesa rises in the background.
David Fuchs / KUER

Listen to the story here.

KANAB — As the debate over public lands management intensifies under the Trump administration, Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears have become household names.