Utah News

Utah News and UPR Newsline are productions of Utah Public Radio. 

Cache Valley Transit Center Receives CARES Act Grant

13 hours ago

U.S Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao, announced Tuesday the Cache Valley Transit Center will be awarded a $5.3 million dollar grant as part of the CARES act. 

Kioshkin / Adobe Stock

While most Utahns seem to have weathered the coronavirus pandemic with less illness and death than has been seen elsewhere, they have not been unaffected by the crisis. Public health officials say the stress and uncertainty of living under a stay-at-home order has caused an increase in anxiety and depression. In response, Utah officials and private groups have launched the Live On campaign: a 3-year drive to promote education, provide resources and change the culture around suicide and mental health. Taryn Hiatt, Utah director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said those who are struggling need to know where to find help.

Brody Hatt and Colt Black

Horses and trainers all over Utah have worked toward competing this spring, but with the coronavirus pandemic resulting in numerous cancelled events, people were unsure whether or not competitions would still be held.

Jud Burkett, The Spectrum & Daily News

Last summer, St. George in Washington County suffered 155 days of drought, the longest since records have been kept. St. George uses a lot of water thanks to its growing population and high per-capita usage. Water managers have been hoping the Lake Powell Pipeline will slake southern Utah’s thirst, but at around 140-miles long and well over a billion dollars, this is an extremely controversial project for a fiscally-conservative state. In April of this year, Kane County opted out, or at least partially.

Molly Marcello, KZMU

At the gateway to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, it’s been unusually quiet this spring. Moab shut the door to visitors for six long weeks during what is usually the busiest time of year. The town is still not fully open, and many locals are dealing with continued unemployment and financial insecurity. All around tensions are high.  

ngblaylock / piXABAY

Two major universities in Utah have announced that students will return to campus this fall for in-person classes with preventive measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the announcement came Tuesday from the University of Utah and Utah State University and included measures such as smaller class sizes and keeping some larger classes online. The Utah Board of Higher Education is expected to release a draft of specific criteria this week for the colleges choosing to reopen.

The Utah County Attorney on Tuesday refuted reports that two businesses linked to dozens of coronavirus cases forced employees to keep working after testing positive. David Leavitt said his office found the allegations made public by county leaders weren’t true, though he acknowledged the virus could have been spread by employees who worked without being aware they were infected.

A shipwreck can be seen protruding from the Great Salt Lake and it could be more than 100 years old. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah State Parks posted a photo of a tangle of brown beams Monday on Facebook after a recent storm eroded part of the beach and exposed the shipwreck. Park manager Dave Shearer says the wreck is of a steel hold boat with wooden planking that dates back to the start of the 20th century.


Many missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been sent home early or relocated due to the coronavirus. With 2020 being a census year, these missionaries and their families may have confusion about where their location should be reported as.

Shifting Habitats: Bird Migration And Climate Change

May 26, 2020
Frank Retes, Southern Arizona

The North American Breeding Bird Survey, a large-scale citizen science project started in 1966, is the basis of a newly-released study on migratory bird habitats and climate change. 

Nicole / Flickr

Restrictions aimed at reducing the use of single-use plastic bags have been put on hold in northern Utah during the coronavirus pandemic. But officials close to the issue said the efforts won't be forgotten. The Herald Journal reports that in response to COVID-19 some stores have banned reusable bags as part of their safety measures. Reusable bags are believed to pose more of a risk in spreading the virus. Cache County Solid Waste Advisory Board drafted a plan to reduce single-use plastic bags.

Police say a man accused of choking and stabbing a woman after meeting her on the popular dating app Tinder asked police to shoot him after reporting the killing. Ethan Hunsaker was arrested Sunday on suspicion of murder in the death of 25-year-old Ashlyn Black of Layton, Utah. Court documents say he called 911 to report he’d killed someone inside his home, telling a dispatcher to tell officers to shoot him. Hunsaker, who is 24, told police that he choked and then stabbed Black unprovoked.Court documents didn't indicate whether he had a lawyer.

Police say a Utah man was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of murder after he allegedly reported the death of a 25-year-old woman he’d met on the dating app Tinder. The Layton Police Department says 24-year-old Ethan Hunsaker called 911 to report he’d killed someone inside a home in a Salt Lake City suburb. When officers responded to the home, they found a woman lying on the floor with multiple stab wounds to her torso. It wasn’t immediately clear if Hunsaker has obtained an attorney. 

Utah prison officials say they will close the Serving Time Cafe, a popular breakfast and lunch joint staffed by incarcerated women. The cafe, which was located adjacent to the Draper prison, had been open to the public for the last 13 years. It was temporarily closed recently due to restrictions with the coronavirus pandemic — but prison officials said Tuesday it won’t reopen. The cafe had a regular following, and there was often a lunchtime rush. It was also a way for women who were sentenced to prison to gain skills and prepare them to re-enter the community when they are released.

Officials say Utah allocated nearly $1.5 million for quarantine lodging and a hospital overflow site for coronavirus treatment but did not use the funds. KUER-FM reports the quarantine and hospital site contracts will expire at the end of May and June, respectively. The state spent more than $1.2 million on a contract to set up 250 sleeping cots and medical equipment at an exhibition center in Sandy to give hospitals a place to move noncritical patients if there was an overwhelming influx of COVID-19 cases.

Image of Lyle Hillyard: News Channel 1, Image of Chris Wilson: Cache Valley Daily

For the first time in 35 years, there is a republican primary for Utah’s 25th senate district. Senator Lyle Hillyard has served as the senator for the district since 1984. He said this election is different.

Utah Coronavirus Update- Friday, May 22

May 22, 2020

On Friday, May 22, the Utah Department of Health announced the number positive coronavirus cases was 8,057, up 183 cases from Thursday. During this time, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 rose by 13 to a new total of 660.  There was one death in this time, bringing the total number to 93. 

Authorities say a 70-year-old man has died after collapsing while returning from a five-day hike in a canyon in southeastern Utah. KUTV-TV reported that the Kane County sheriff’s office was responding to an emergency incident in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on Wednesday when they learned the man was hiking and rafting with a group in the Escalante Canyon for multiple days. Authorities say they were returning to their vehicle when the man collapsed. Deputies were told the man was in good health and enjoyed outdoor activities.

chiplanay / PIXABAY

Utah County emergency officials have reported a 34% increase in the number of calls for mental health and wellness checks since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Daily Herald reported the increase in calls to law enforcement authorities and first responders could be attributed to anxiety related to the coronavirus. Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon says other factors could include stress related to potential unemployment or home isolation. County law enforcement responded to 62 suicide-related calls from Feb. 1 to May 20.

The University of Utah did not reach a settlement after two days of mediation with the parents of slain track star Lauren McCluskey. They filed a $56 million lawsuit over her death in 2018. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the McCluskeys' attorney described the talks as frank but unsuccessful. The family sued after their 21-year-old daughter was shot outside her dorm by a 37-year-old registered sex offender on parole who she briefly dated. The man died by suicide hours after the shooting. The university has maintained that it was not liable for her death.

State officials say nearly 160,000 Utah residents have applied for unemployment since the pandemic took hold in the U.S. in mid-March. That represents about 11% of the total workforce in Utah that is eligible for the unemployment insurance program.The 6,275 unemployment claims made in the week ending May 16 marked a 12% decrease from the previous week. It was the sixth consecutive week claims have decreased since a peak of 33,000 during the week ending April 4.


After this year’s Miss Utah competition was postponed to 2021, county pageant organizers are trying to decide how to move forward with their competitions. Local titleholders are also learning to adjust during the pandemic.

CAPSA reports high volume of calls, clients through pandemic, and numbers rising as coronavirus mitigation efforts ease, meaning fewer victims trapped at home with their abusers.
Rusty Frank / U. S. Air Force

According to Lt. Troy Thurston, the Logan City Police Department has responded to 265 incidents related to domestic violence since Jan. 1, and 104 of those occurred after March 15 — right around the time Utah started issuing “stay at home” initiatives. 

Utah Coronavirus Update, Thursday, May 21

May 21, 2020

On Thursday, May 21, the Utah Department of Health announced the number of positive coronavirus cases in Utah has increased by 164 cases since Wednesday, bringing the new total to 7,874. Of the 7,874 cases, there have been 647 hospitalizations. Two people died in this time, bringing the total deaths due to COVID-19 to 92. One of these deaths occurred in a long- term care facility, making 40 resident deaths due to the coronavirus.