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Governor Cox addresses infrastructure, vaccinations and school violence

Governor Cox speaks over Zoom.
PBS Utah/Utah Office of the Governor

Governor Cox alluded to next year’s budget proposal, with sweeping plans to increase water storage, encourage drought tolerant landscaping and minimize water usage at his December news conference.

“I think our proposals this year are so very important. One of those proposals is to use a significant amount of money to meter secondary water and we're proposing to use a significant amount of money to improve optimization in agriculture to significantly reduce the amount of water that is being used by agriculture and still improving the yields of their crops. And then we waste so much water on grass that never gets used for anything other than just being ornamental, in park strips and others so that we have a bill to work on that,” Cox said.

Cox also referenced school violence and our mounting youth mental health crisis, saying that money the state has put toward student engagement and hiring counselors is making a difference.

“We had about $29 million a couple years ago, that went to our schools to hire additional counselors, and it is making a huge difference. I was talking with a superintendent down in Sevier County, about some of the interventions that they've done there with their counseling team, to where they were having upwards of 30 referrals to the office every week for student behavior, and now they're down to about three a week because they've been engaging with students,” Cox said.

Cox said COVID deaths in Utah are still primarily in unvaccinated individuals.

“10 people are going to die today, on average, eight to 12. Somewhere in there. We've seen that now over the past several weeks. That's tragic. And most of those will be unvaccinated. In fact, your risk of dying right now in the state of Utah, I think is about 15 times higher if you are unvaccinated than vaccinated,” Cox said.

With a possible holiday COVID surge, Cox urged Utahns to get vaccinated or boosted before the holidays, emphasizing that boosters appear to protect against the Omicron variant.

Aimee Van Tatenhove is a science reporter at UPR. She spends most of her time interviewing people doing interesting research in Utah and writing stories about wildlife, new technologies and local happenings. She is also a PhD student at Utah State University, studying white pelicans in the Great Salt Lake, so she thinks about birds a lot! She also loves fishing, skiing, baking, and gardening when she has a little free time.