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BRHD Announces 24 Confirmed Coronavirus Cases

Apr 2, 2020
Bear River Health Department

The Bear River Health Department confirmed eight new cases coronavirus cases and up to 56 potential cases in a press release today. The release states one of the confirmed cases was a healthcare provider from a small family practice, and through tracing exposure, 10 symptomatic individuals were identified with the other 46 being asked to quarantine as a precaution.

Today, Governor Gary Herbert announced “a first-of-its-kind partnership” between the state and the Silicone Slopes Serves initiative to more than double Utah’s testing capacity in efforts to “crush the curve.” According to Herbert, the goal of the three-phase plan between healthcare professionals and the technological sector is a way to “keep citizens safe, informed and help us all get us back to a normal way of life as quickly and safely as possible.”

Utah Unemployment Jumps 2,400%

Apr 2, 2020
Coronavirus causes Utah's employment rates to jump 2,400%, many coming from food industry layoffs.
Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

Utah’s average number of unemployment claims per week was 1,131 last year, according to Kevin Burt, the Unemployment Division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Last week, the Department of Workforce Services saw more than a 1,300% increase in unemployment claims due to the coronavirus. This week, it’s up 2,400%.

Second Cannabis Pharmacy In Utah Opens

Apr 1, 2020
medical cannabis pharmacy, medical marijuana dispensary Utah,  Perfect Earth Modern Apothecary in North Logan.
Kat Webb / UPR

“COVID-19, the coronavirus, it's definitely slowed down our practice just in general,” said Ammon Hills, an interventional pain management specialist in Cache and Box Elder counties. “But we're definitely adjusting and kind of responding.”

Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing requirements have led to many churches to close to the public.
Sari Huella / Wikimedia Commons

During the Easter season is when many churches are busy collecting palm leaves, planning choir programs and preparing for one of the most important days in christianity. But this year, churches across the world are implementing changes, like going digital, to continue to provide services while maintaining social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Coronavirus, COVID-19; Pollution caused by PM2.5, NO2 decreased in China from Jan. 1 to Feb. 25 due to coronavirus-related shutdowns, and similar data is coming in from the U.S.
Josh Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory

While there are many economic concerns about business shutdowns related to the coronavirus, Utah State University professor Randy Martin said one positive outcome has been the reduction in emissions, leading to better air quality throughout the world.

Grocery stores unstocked due to panic-buying over the coronavirus.
prettyinprint / Flickr

As the global coronavirus pandemic continues, more and more people are relying on the services of non-profits. UPR’s Kat Webb has been visiting with different non-profit leaders in Cache County and today, our news director, Matilyn Mortensen, had a conversation with her about what she’s been hearing.  

Shelters are already full as Utah prepares for increasing cases of COVID-19.
KOMUnews / Flickr

“The reality is, our shelters are full,” said Joe Vazquez, the co-executive director of the Salt Lake City Mission. He said in the 23 years he’s worked with rescue missions to help the homeless, he’s been involved with disasters before, but never one so massive as this one surrounding the coronavirus pandemic — especially since it’s been compounded by the aftermath of last week’s earthquake.

COVID-19, coronavirus, social distancing, theaters and ballets cancelling performances and hope to transition to online-streaming services.
Allen Sheffield / Flickr

“We're seeing a huge amount of loss of gigs,” said Crystal Young-Otterstrom, the executive director of the Utah Cultural Alliance.

Recyling, Plastic Waste, Cache County and Logan City; Emily Malik, with Logan City's Environmental Department, an average of 75% of residents put out their recycling bins, and the bins are 75% full, on average.

House Representative Val Potter said recycling in the state of Utah is down because there is “no market for recycling”. But according to Emily Malik, the conservation coordinator for Logan City’s Environmental Department, Cache County’s numbers are up despite the market’s fluctuations.

Ongoing Funding For Utah's ROI Program

Feb 26, 2020
Women codiing, Rural Online Initiative training program funding helps Utahns in remote areas gain skills to work from home.

At a time when general fund money is stretched thin, House Representative Val Potter said ongoing funding will be used to continue to grow the Rural Online Initiative program

Lawmakers Address Discipline, Education Needs

Feb 20, 2020
Nearly half of Utah's teachers are quitting within five years of starting their careers. Rep. Dan Johnson said, "We need to keep our great teachers," and said addressing school disciplinary tactics will be critical in the discussion.
Beth Hollliker / Air National Guard

According to Utah State Senator Lyle Hillyard, there is currently a 40% turnover rate for public safety workers and a nurse shortage of about 25,000 positions. 

Salt Lake City, Utah, Utah Capitol, in winter
Brian / Wikimedia Commons

The time for appropriations is coming to a close in the 2020 Legislative Session, and according to district 3’s House Representative Val Potter, the general fund is “challenged.”

Homelessness in Utah, squatting in abandoned buildings and living out of cars, Utah's unsheltered homeless count increased 1,475% in the Bear River area.
Cliff Johnson / Flickr

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Devolopment (HUD) defines 'homelessness' as: "living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided."  On Jan. 23, volunteers spread across the state to help with HUD's annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count.

Utah State University, the Justice Department, say the university mishandled sexual harassment cases for years, exposing more students to harassment and assaults.
ngblaylock / pixabay.com

After news of sexual assaults committed by former-student athlete Torrey Green broke in 2016, Utah State University started an internal review on what was going on with sexual assault reports on campus — this was before the Department of Justice informed the university it was investigating. The DOJ report said from 2013 to 2017, USU received 240 reports of sexual harassment, but it processed fewer than 25 in accordance with its Title IX procedures. 

The Springville Fire & Rescue ambulance #43 in a parade on South Main Street (U.S. Route 89) in Springville, Utah, June 2016, is close to Salt Lake City. But in rural areas, there is a shortage of EMS providers.
wikimedia Commons

While the bill introduced to censure Sen. Mitt Romney is at the height of public opinion, some Utah lawmakers say the bill is a waste of time. Instead, Representative Dan Johnson saidsafety issues are going to be one of his main focuses of the week, such as House Bill 190 that aims to redefine emergency medical services as an “essential service.”

Novolog, humalog, insulin copayments might be capped in Utah, costing no more than $30 for a 30-day supply.

“Prescription drugs don’t work if people can’t afford to buy them,” said Mindie Hooley, the Utah Insulin For All chapter leader. For her, the fight for affordable medication is personal. 

Mardi Gras donations Mardi Bra fundraiser at the Salt Lake City Mission in Utah.
samslens / pixabay.com

According to Family Promise Salt Lake, two-thirds of the homeless in Utah live in Salt Lake County. Joe Vazquez has been with Salt Lake City Mission for six years, but he’s worked with rescue missions for 23. He said while the reported numbers of the homeless in Utah are dropping, the number of individuals and families in poverty in the state is rising.

National Endowment for the Arts survey reported Utah highest in nation for adults personally creating or performing art.
National Endowment for the Arts

According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Utah is the number one state for art participation and number two for attending live performances. But with the tax modernization reform bill repealed, officials say Utah’s general fund budget — where art funding comes from — is stretched thin. So why should funds go toward the arts and humanities? 

QPR Institute Question Persuade Refer Training, Mental Health, Suicide; Charity Jenson said one of the most common responses at QPR Trainings is 'I had no idea about suicide, I had no idea how prevalent it was or what to do to help someone.'
Kat Webb / UPR

Republican Speaker of the House Brad Wilson named reducing Utah’s suicide rate as one of his top priorities for the year in his opening session remarks earlier this week. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but the eighth in Utah

Bear River Massacre, Shoshone, Shoshone-Bannock, Idaho, Cache Valley natives gather to remember the victims of the Bear River Massacre — the largest Native American Massacre in the nation's history.
Cynthia Griggs / U.S. Air Force

The largest massacre of Native Americans in the United States — the Bear River Massacre — occurred 157 years ago. Each year, members of the Northwestern Band of Shoshone and the Shoshone-Bannock gather to remember the event, honor their ancestors and try to forgive the past. 

Utah Lawmakers To Repeal Tax Reform Bill

Jan 23, 2020
governor gary herbert tax modernization reform, referendum
U.S. Department of Agriculture

To the surprise of many Utahns, Governor Gary Herbert announced Thursday morning that state lawmakers would be repealing the controversial tax modernization bill in the upcoming legislative session. The bill was passed during a special session last month.

Utah State legislature, house of representatives, senate
Padraic Ryan / Wikimedia Commons

Monday is the first day of the Utah State Legislative Session, and while the voting chimes haven’t started ringing at the capitol quite yet, preparations are in full swing for the whirlwind 45-days of lawmaking. 

Jim Mattis Secretary of Defense on U.S. role in global leadership and at home.
Kat Webb

On Tuesday, the former Secretary of Defense spoke to the public at Utah State University about the importance of studying the country’s history — especially for youth.

Macey's allows volunteers to gather signatures to repeal tax reform changes, such as increased tax on food items.
Kat Webb / UPR

Almost immediately after the tax reform bill passed during a special legislative session and was signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert in December, everyday citizens — like Michele Alder of North Logan — jumped into action. 

Diverse Utah Women Honored At Book Event

Jan 15, 2020
Mae Timbimboo Parry and Brady Yeager Parry; Brady Yeager Parry walked into the Thatcher-Young Mansion with a few friends for extra credit, but found an illustration of his grandmother, Mae Timbimboo Parry — one of the women featured in Champions of Change
Kat Webb / UPR

The Cache Celebration of Women’s Suffrage teamed up with Better Days 2020 and Utah State University to hold a book signing event for Champions of Change, written by Naomi Watkins and Katherine Kitterman, and illustrated by Brooke SmartThe event — the first of several to occur over the year — brought as diverse of a crowd as the women featured in the book to the Thatcher-Young Mansion on Tuesday.

'Blue Trail' Proposed For Cache Valley

Jan 14, 2020
Blue Trail on Logan River; The proposed 'blue trail' would start around First Dam and have multiple access points until ending at the Cutler Marsh.
Logan City Parks and Recreation

Frank Howe, the chairman of the Logan River Task Force, and the Logan City Parks and Recreation Director, Russ Akina, announced a plan to incorporate the Logan River into the Cache Valley Trail System as a ‘blue trail’ on January 7. If adopted, the proposed blue trail could eventually span from just below First Dam — close to the USU water lab — to the Cutler Marsh Marina.

Medical Marijuana; Utah gave 14 licenses allowing 10 companies to open medical cannabis pharmacies (referred to as dispensaries in other states).

While the bill that replaced Utah’s Proposition 2 — the citizen effort to legalize medical marijuana — did not let rural Utahns grow their own cannabis plants at home as initiative sponsors had wanted, the replacement law has a potentially more convenient option: home delivery.

Logan Mayor To Build On Past Goals, Downtown

Jan 8, 2020
Logan City Mayor Holly Daines; In her annual State of the City address, Daines listed fiscal responsibility, investing in infrasture and downtown revitalization as top priorities, and the partnerships have been crucial for the city's success.
Kat Webb / UPR

In addition to fiscal responsibility, Logan Mayor Holly Daines said her top goals for the year include investing in infrastructure and downtown revitalization during her State of the City address on Tuesday. 

Spiritualism on the Rise

Dec 30, 2019
Frank Boosman / flickr.com

The Pew Research Center reported 65% of Americans described themselves as Christian in 2018 and 2019 — a number that has been in decline for a decade. However, in the 44 years the General Social Survey has conducted studies on Americans’ religious beliefs, 2019 was the first year “No Religion” topped the list above a specific organization.