Salt lake city government

Salt lake city government

Utah has bet on cutting pandemic benefits to get people back to work. He hasn’t yet

A roadside banner invites potential employees outside a business in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, March 27, 2021. Utah Governor Cox hopes that by removing COVID-19 unemployment benefits, the unemployed from Utah will return to work. (Rogelio V. Solis, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Spencer Cox was hoping to force jobless Utahns to look for work more aggressively when they decided to suspend pandemic-related federal unemployment insurance benefits on June 26, more than two months before they expire planned.

But data from a new study suggests the plan didn’t quite lead to those results, and Utah’s leading economy may be at least partially to blame.

A two-part survey conducted in June by researchers at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business sampled the feelings of jobless business owners and Utahns, including 500 households, about the outcome of the changes. in state unemployment benefits, among other issues.

One of the most notable data points goes to the heart of Cox’s hopes that the removal of benefits and extended benefits would entice job seekers.

“To assess the impact of the expiration of additional (unemployment insurance) payments, we asked respondents if this expiration would influence the time and effort they devote to job search or financial planning. “Says the investigation report. “More than 90% of those polled say that the expiry of (unemployment) benefits will have no impact on their efforts to find a job or their saving behavior.”

Unemployed survey respondents also weighed in resoundingly when asked whether the early cancellation of extended federal benefits would cause them to consider lower-paying employment opportunities – none said the change would make them feel better. would push them to take a lower paying job.

While the U.S. business school survey may not reflect the outcome Cox was looking for, one of the report’s authors said the circumstances behind these responses from the unemployed in Utah revolved around vibrant economic health and still in improving the state.

Nathan Seegert is a professor of finance at the Eccles School of Business and co-author of the report, which he says is part of an ongoing project to track Utah economic indicators and sentiment.

Seegert said a combination of factors, all of which are indicators of a strong economy, put the unemployed in a position of power when it comes to seeking that next opportunity.

“The model would predict that if UI wages went down, you would be more likely to accept a lower wage to get out of unemployment,” Seegert said. “But that’s not what we’re seeing at all and in our survey no one said they would take a lower paying job.

“This is in part due to consumer expectations regarding rising prices for goods and services as well as the housing market. While price increases are evidence of an economic recovery, it puts job seekers in a hurry. mind that they can’t afford to jump to a lower level. salary. “

And Seegert said Utah’s ultra-low unemployment rate, another positive economic indicator, also strengthens the ability of the unemployed to be picky.

“The state’s unemployment rate is very low,” Seegert said. “If employees feel like they can get a new job tomorrow, it puts them in a much better bargaining position.”

The market should not compete with the government for workers.

– Utah Governor Spencer Cox

Cox spokeswoman Jennifer Napier-Pearce said the Eccles report, which also highlighted a plethora of positive data from workers and business owners, was further proof that Utah was on track to fully recover from recessionary conditions caused by COVID-19.

“These data continue to show what we were hoping for: a return to normal in the economy and the labor market,” Napier-Pearce said in a statement. “We want to continue to help every Utahn find meaningful employment and help every business thrive.

“We are experiencing labor shortages again and although it is a challenge for companies, we hope that each Utahn takes this opportunity to improve their respective professional opportunities.”

In May, Cox said his decision to end pandemic-related federal unemployment benefits to some 24,000 Utahns before the scheduled end of benefits in September was the right move amid the rise in employment in the Status and robust recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

“This is the next natural step in getting the condition and people’s lives back to normal,” Cox said when the decision was announced. “I believe in the value of work. With the lowest unemployment rate in the country… and many well-paying jobs available today, it makes sense to move away from those added benefits that were never intended to be. be permanent.

“The market should not be competing with the government for workers.”

He also noted that other “safety net programs” such as assistance with rent, utilities, food and medical bills will still be available.

Cox is among about 20 Republican state governors across the United States who made similar decisions about ending federal pandemic benefits in June, saying the added benefit keeps people from wanting to work .

Labor experts say the nationwide labor shortage isn’t just about the additional $ 300 payment. Some unemployed people have also been reluctant to look for work because of fear of catching the virus. Others have found new occupations rather than returning to their old jobs. And many women, especially working mothers, have had to leave the workforce to care for children.

In early June, the Utah Department of Workforce Services reported that just over 24,700 residents were receiving some type of unemployment benefit, of which about 12,000 were on traditional benefits as well as the pandemic allowance of $ 300 per week funded by the federal government. About 11,000 others were still receiving unemployment insurance benefits under federal extensions also created to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 on American workers. And about 1,200 Utah workers – people employed by companies like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub and others who are classified as contractors exempt from typical unemployment benefits – have also received benefits under warrants. federal emergency. While federal deadlines for most pandemic-related benefits for the unemployed are due to expire in early September, Cox’s order cut them 10 weeks earlier than expected.

As of July 24, Workforce Services reported that 11,768 Utahns were still registered as unemployed.

Some Utah lawmakers saw the early cancellation of benefits as an unwelcome change.

Following Cox’s announcement, Utah House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, highlighted these factors while expressing frustration with the governor’s decision to end the benefits. in Utah.

“I mean, it’s the perfect example of a disconnect between people in normal life and people who are struggling to get back on their feet,” King said. “There are many, many people who are worried – afraid – of going back to work.”

What “frustrates me the most,” King said, is that Cox’s decision “reflects this thinking from many across the aisle that people don’t want to work. This is fundamentally wrong. “

Seegert said Utah’s current enviable economic vitality must pay tribute to the actions taken by Cox and state lawmakers, as well as the federal economic stimulus measures related to the pandemic, which have enabled the state to perform better than almost any other place in the country.

“The Utah government has responded extremely well to the economic conditions of the pandemic,” Seegert said. “The state’s social safety nets have worked very well … and the leaders just had the foresight to do a lot of things to keep the economic engine running.”

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Compliance and challenge: States respond to new CDC mask guidelines

A handful of state and local mayors and health officials announced they would require vaccinated and unvaccinated residents to wear masks in indoor public places, in line with revised recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And some school districts have said they will implement the CDC’s recommendations for universal masking of teachers, staff and students.

But most state and local health officials have refrained from requiring the wearing of an indoor mask. Instead, they encouraged residents of areas where COVID-19 is spreading to wear masks in indoor public places as additional protection against the more contagious delta variant. Others said they were considering warrants.

In May, nearly all state and local jurisdictions lifted mask requirements for those vaccinated in response to the CDC’s recommendation at the time that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear face masks. inside.

The agency’s July 27 reversal for people vaccinated in high transmission communities was based on new scientific evidence that showed that vaccinated people can spread the virus, albeit at a much lower rate than those vaccinated. who are not vaccinated.

The change sparked more disagreements between Republican and Democratic politicians over masks and other pandemic-related public health precautions.

A handful of Republican governors criticized the CDC’s recommendations. The GOP governors of Florida, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina took their objection a step further, reiterating their opposition to mask mandates of any kind.

Meanwhile, the Democratic governors of Nevada and Hawaii have decided to reinstate or continue the mask mandates. Democratic mayors of Atlanta, the District of Columbia and Kansas City, Missouri, have also demanded that the mask be worn indoors.

Mayors of Birmingham, Alabama; Miami; Orlando; Salt Lake City; and Savannah, Georgia, reinstated the mandatory wearing of masks in public facilities.

Most Democratic governors have urged residents to adopt the new federal guidelines.

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New state laws cripple public health officials

But nearly all elected state and local leaders and public health officials agreed on one thing: more people need to be vaccinated to protect themselves from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Criticizing the CDC’s latest mask recommendations, Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey said, “Public health officials in Arizona and across the country have made it clear that the best protection against COVID-19 was the vaccine. Today’s announcement by the CDC will unfortunately only diminish confidence in the vaccine and create more challenges for public health officials, people who have worked tirelessly to increase vaccination rates. “

Ducey this spring issued executive orders banning vaccine passports by local governments and telling state colleges and universities they couldn’t impose vaccine requirements on students.

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents on Monday to wear masks, but did not issue a warrant, saying the focus should be on vaccines. “The main event is the vaccinations,” he told CNN.

Some public health experts fear that Americans who are already hesitant to get vaccinated may be further discouraged by the CDC’s findings that people who have been vaccinated can still spread COVID-19.

At the same time, local public health officials in parts of the country are reporting that vaccination rates have started to rise as the virus begins to reappear.

In Louisiana, for example, where new cases are on the rise and intensive care beds are at full capacity in most hospitals, state health official and medical director Dr Joseph Kanter said during from a press briefing that vaccination rates in the state had nearly quadrupled in the past two weeks. .

Nationally, new cases of COVID-19 increased 64% in the last week of July, according to the CDC. Hospitalization rates for adults aged 18 to 49 increased for the first time since April, according to the CDC, rising 40% in early July compared to late June.

And deaths from COVID-19 are on the rise again in nearly every state, fueled by the more contagious and potentially deadly delta variant, the CDC reported last week. Almost 67% of counties nationwide have COVID-19 transmission rates high enough to trigger wearing an indoor mask, according to the CDC.

Last year, the country’s main safeguards against COVID-19 were the wearing of masks and social distancing. Now that vaccines are available, public health officials universally view them as the first line of defense.

But less than 70% of all Americans eligible for vaccines received their first injection, and in many states, less than half of all residents are vaccinated.

In 16 states, less than half of all residents have received even a single injection of the COVID-19 vaccine. Mississippi has the lowest vaccination rate at less than 40%, followed by Idaho, Wyoming, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota, West Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Montana and Ohio.

As COVID-19 cases began to increase in July, Los Angeles County, California, became the first local jurisdiction to reinstate a mask warrant. A handful of other counties in California and beyond followed. And the governor of Hawaii has decided not to lift the state’s existing mask requirement.

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Lawmakers set to withdraw emergency powers from governors

But at least three states have passed laws this year banning mask warrants generally, including Arkansas, Iowa and North Dakota.

Three other states – Arizona, Oklahoma and Utah – have new laws that prohibit schools from requiring masks.

Last week’s CDC announcement prompted Republican governors in Florida, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina to double down on their opposition to the mask and vaccine warrants.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott in May banned mask warrants in schools. Last week, he extended the ban to all state and local jurisdictions. Likewise, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who banned mask warrants earlier in July, has vowed not to impose a statewide mask rule or restrict any business and public activity. way either.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order that allows parents to ignore mask warrants in schools. And in South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster tweeted that school districts could not implement mask mandates: “State law now prohibits school administrators from requiring students to wear masks.” The General Assembly agreed with me and this decision is now left to the parents.

Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed a bill banning state and local mask mandates in April, took the opposite approach, calling a special legislative session to reconsider the law regarding schools.

Oregon Democratic Governor Kate Brown has called on the state health authority and the education department to create a rule requiring indoor masks for K-12 schools across the country. State.

Despite the Republican backlash to the CDC mask flipping, state and local health officials say the federal agency’s new guidelines are making their job easier.

“With this recommendation, the CDC said that local health agencies should make the decision and that not all jurisdictions have to adopt the same rules,” said Adriane Casalotti, head of public and government affairs at the Association. national county and city public health officials.

“In places where the local health department was prohibited from imposing masks or lacked the political will to do so,” she said, “having this new direction helps them make the necessary choices. to try to help everyone protect themselves and their families. . “

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AM News Brief: Stargazing at Eagle Mountain, Parade Traffic in SLC and Smoky Air, and Exercise (everywhere)

Friday morning July 23, 2021

Northern Utah

Days of ’47 impacts the roads of downtown Salt Lake City

There are road closures in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday due to the Days of 47 parade and festivities. The Salt Lake City Police Department said the roads would be closed from 6 a.m. to around noon. The marathon and other races started at 5:30 a.m. Traffic may only cross intersections along the marathon route between runners; which includes Sunnyside, 1300 East and South Temple. Intersections will be fully closed along the parade route that begins at State and South Temple, heads south on 200 East, and turns on 900 South toward Liberty Park. UTA has increased TRAX and FrontRunner service before the parade begins at 9 a.m., but buses will run on Saturdays. – Elaine clark

Looking Up In Eagle Mountain

A new stargazing park is in the works at Eagle Mountain, Utah. The city announced Thursday that it is working with Utah Valley University and Facebook, which is giving the city a $ 250,000 grant for the project. The city plans to build an observatory and increase parking and toilets in the neighborhood. Officials said they were hopeful the new park would be designated as one of Utah’s Dark Sky sites. The construction schedule has not yet been determined. – Ross Terrell

Editor’s note: Facebook also supports KUER.

Southern Utah

Businesses struggle to find employees in Cedar City

Utah’s unemployment rate was the second lowest in the country last month, but businesses are struggling to find workers as the state’s economy rebounds from the pandemic. Shane Behunin owns All American Diner in Cedar City. He said it was one of the best years in terms of business – with everyone traveling and spending money. But he struggles to hire workers, even when he says he offers competitive wages and frequent bonuses. So now he’s spending more to have the employees work overtime just to keep the restaurant open. Toro Vaun owns Donuts Town in Cedar. He was looking for a baker, but said he was having a hard time keeping people around. Read the full story. – Lexi peery

Region / Nation

Home Secretary on drought strategies

US Home Secretary Deb Haaland said significant federal infrastructure investments were needed to protect existing water supplies. Haaland spoke Thursday at the start of a three-day visit to Colorado. His comments come as a historic drought grips the American West, and Haaland said all levels of government must work to reduce demand, including promoting water efficiency and recycling. She will also visit the new headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction, which was moved from DC by the Trump administration in 2019.

Where there is smoke, there is air pollution

How too smoky is it to exercise outside? Boise State University environmental toxicologist Luke Montrose said it was essential to check the area’s Air Quality Index or AQI. From there, Montrose said the decision depended on factors like age or health risks, like asthma. He said the harder a person breathes, the shorter their exposure to poor air quality conditions should be. Everyone should definitely avoid going out when the AQI is above 200. In Utah, information is available at – Maggie Mullen, Mountain West Information Office

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Drought in Utah City Halts Growth

OAKLEY, Utah – In the western United States, a summer of record drought, heat waves and mega-fires exacerbated by climate change is forcing millions of people to face an inevitable series of reshuffling disasters. question the future of growth.

Groundwater and vital waterways for farmers and cities are drying up. Fires devour homes built deeper into the wilderness and forests. The extreme heat makes working outdoors more dangerous and life without air conditioning potentially fatal. While the summer monsoon rains have recently brought some relief to the southwest, 99.9% of Utah is locked in severe drought conditions and the reservoirs are less than half full.

Yet cheap housing is still scarce than water in much of Utah, whose population grew 18% from 2010 to 2020, making it the fastest growing state in the world. country. Cities across the west fear that stopping development to conserve water will only worsen an accessibility crisis that spans Colorado to California.

In the small mountain town of Oakley, about an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, the spring that pioneers once used to water their hay fields and fill people’s taps for decades has shrunk to a trickle. in the scorching drought of this year. City officials have therefore taken drastic measures to preserve their water: they have stopped building.

During the pandemic, the real estate market in their city of 1,500 people exploded as remote workers poured in from the west coast and second home owners staked out ranches on weekends. But these newcomers need water – water that disappears as a mega drought dries up reservoirs and rivers in the West.

So this spring, Oakley imposed a moratorium on the construction of new homes that would be connected to the city’s water system. It is one of the first cities in the United States to deliberately slow down growth due to a lack of water. But it could be a harbinger of things to come in a warmer, drier West.

“Why do we build houses if we don’t have enough water? Said Wade Woolstenhulme, the mayor, who in addition to raising horses and judging rodeos, has spent the past few weeks defending the building moratorium. “The right thing to do to protect the people who are already here is to restrict the entry of people. “

Farmers and ranchers – who use 70 to 80 percent of all water – let their fields turn brown or sell cows and sheep they can no longer graze. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said all fields on the family farm, except one, had dried up.

“It’s just brutal right now,” said Mr. Cox, who also called on worshipers to pray for rain. “If we continue to grow at the current rate and experience another drought like this in 10 years, there will be real implications for drinking water. That’s what worries me the most. “

For now, most places are trying to avoid the worst of the drought through conservation rather than turning off the growth tap. State officials say there is still plenty of clean water and there are no plans to prevent people from moving in and building.

“An important consideration for many politicians is that they don’t want to be seen as an under-resourced community,” said Katharine Jacobs, who heads the University of Arizona’s Climate Adaptation Research Center.

In states in the region, Western water providers have threatened $ 1,000 fines or arrests if they find customers flouting restrictions on lawn sprinklers or flushing the driveway. Governments are spending millions to pull up grass, reuse wastewater, build new storage systems and recharge depleted aquifers – conservation measures that have helped desert cities like Las Vegas and Tucson reduce their water use even as their populations exploded. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for 15% reductions in water use, but so far these have been largely voluntary.

But the water now hangs over many construction debates. Water authorities in Marin County, California, which has the lowest rainfall in 140 years, are considering stopping allowing new water connections to homes.

Developers located in a dry desert expanse between Phoenix and Tucson must prove they have access to 100 years of water to get permits to build new homes. But the extensive pumping of groundwater – mainly for agriculture – has left the region with little water for future development.

Many developers see the need to find new sources of water. “Water will and should be – as far as our arid southwest is concerned – the limiting factor for growth,” said Spencer Kamps, vice president of legislative affairs for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona. “If you can’t guarantee the water supply, obviously development shouldn’t take place. “

At the end of last month, the state’s water department announced that it would not approve any applications for developers seeking to use groundwater in the region. The move raised concerns among local developers, who said the restrictions would make it more difficult to meet the needs of Arizona’s voracious housing market.

In Utah, Oakley and the nearby farming town of Henefer pledge not to expand until they can get reliable new water sources by drilling or pumping – a costly and uncertain prospect.

“These towns are canaries in the coal mine,” said Paul D. Brooks, professor of hydrology at the University of Utah. “They can’t count to go to the tap and turn on the water. Climate change is coming home right now, and it’s hitting us hard. “

In the 1800s, water was one of Oakley’s main draws for white settlers. The town sits next to the Weber River, and its water and other mountain sources irrigated farmland and supported the dairies that once dotted the valley.

It’s still a conservative farming community where the ragged Trump flags of 2020 fly and the mayor doubts man-made climate change. Its beauty and location half an hour from the glitz of Park City Ski Resort made it a good deal for foreigners.

Utah law has allowed Oakley City Council to pass only a six-month moratorium on construction, and the city hopes it can tap into a new water source before deciding whether to reactivate the moratorium or to let it expire.

A project that would build up to 36 new homes on a tree-covered pasture near the town’s glacier is on hold.

“You feel bad for the people who saved up to build a house in Oakley,” said Mr Woolstenhulme, the mayor, as he drove through town pointing out the dusty fields that would normally be rich in alfalfa. The distant mountains were blurred by the haze of forest fires. “I hate government violations in people’s lives, but it’s like having children: every once in a while you have to get tough. “

Oakley plans to spend up to $ 2 million to drill a 2,000-foot-deep water well to reach what authorities hope is an untapped aquifer.

But 30 miles north of Oakley, past dry irrigation ditches, crumpled brown hills, and the Echo Reservoir – 28% full and down – is the town of Henefer, where new construction has been arrested for three years. Right now, Henefer is trying to tap into new sources to provide water for landscaping and outdoor use – and save its precious drinking water.

“The people of the city don’t like it,” Mayor Kay Richins said of the building moratorium. “I do not like it.”

Experts say smaller towns are particularly vulnerable. And few places in Utah are as small or dry as Echo, a jumble of homes squeezed between a freight railroad and stunning red rock cliffs. Echo was already having trouble hanging on after the two cafes closed. Then, its spring-fed water supply hit critical lows this summer.

Echo’s water manager transports drinking water by truck from neighboring towns. People fear that the water needed to put out a single bushfire could deplete their reservoirs.

At home, JJ Trussell and Wesley Winterhalter have let their lawns turn yellow and shower sparingly. But some neighbors still let their sprinklers spray, and Mr Trussell feared the small community his grandparents had helped build was about to dry up and fly away.

“It is very possible that we will lose our only source of water,” he said. “It would make life here almost impossible.”

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Will masks be mandatory as cases increase? Utah Legislature Has Final Say on COVID-19 Restrictions

SALT LAKE CITY – As the number of cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 continue to rise, mask warrants are back in a few cities in the western United States.

In Los Angeles and Las Vegas, residents and visitors should wear a mask for indoor events, even if they are vaccinated, to slow the transmission of the delta variant.

But is it likely to return to Utah, or is it even possible?

“I think going back to a mask mandate, or going back to restrictions, is the opposite direction to where we need to go right now,” said Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield.

He told KSL-TV that Utah lawmakers are highly unlikely to ever bring back a mask warrant, even as new cases increase. Ultimately, they have the authority over emergency health orders.

“It comes down to a personal choice,” said Ray. “It’s not the government’s role to do that, especially with the vaccine. You educate people about the benefits of the vaccine. If you want to get vaccinated, you get vaccinated. If you don’t, then you take the risk of coming down with COVID. “

Utah’s COVID-19 emergency orders ended five months ago and the state legislature further restricted how they could be implemented.

So if a city or county in Utah wanted to bring back a mask warrant, could they do so?

“Local Utah health departments have the power to issue mask warrants if they have the support of their elected officials in their jurisdiction,” said Nicholas Rupp, spokesperson for the Salt County Department of Health. Lake.

A county health department executive can issue a new emergency health declaration as a mask warrant as long as local officials, like the mayor and commission, are in favor.

It is not the government’s role to do that, especially with the vaccine. You educate people about the benefits of the vaccine. If you want to get vaccinated, you get vaccinated. If you don’t, then you run the risk of falling with COVID.

-Representative. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield

But according to Evan Vickers, co-sponsor of Senate Bill 195, the legislature can end any order or restriction issued by a health department. So the legislature has that authority in Utah.

Rupp said they would never remove this mask warrant option, but the county health department is currently focusing on vaccine distribution as the most effective tool to fight the pandemic.

“Right now, while we have a vaccine that is still very effective against all of the circulating variants, we are more likely to focus our efforts on promoting this more effective intervention,” Rupp said.

He said masks were a very effective tool in 2020 when there was no vaccine, but at this time Salt Lake County is not likely to re-implement a mask mandate.

“We will focus on vaccination for now, as long as the vaccines continue to be as effective against the variants,” Rupp said.

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Column: This time… Dédé the Sardine and the big Olympic fish | Athletics

Dede the Sardine was a big Olympic fish.

“I am a master of the universe,” said Dédé a few years before his death in 2016 at the ripe age of 97. Dédé was born André Guelfi. His friends from the International Olympic Committee called it the Sardine, in tribute to their friend who made his fortune in sardines.

Back ashore, Guelfi was an advisor to legendary sports godfather and IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who in 1980 discovered how to use television and corporate sponsorship to resuscitate the dying Olympics in the multimedia giant. thriving now hospitalized and unvaccinated for COVID-19 in Tokyo.

“The CIOs are truly the masters of the universe,” chuckled Sardine. “When we ask for something, anything, we get it. “

And they did. The Moroccan-born French businessman and Formula 1 driver for decades has helped the 91-member IOC weather its storms of scandal, greed and doom. Like his friend Samaranch, Guelfi was vaccinated with a phonograph needle and didn’t care what you said about him or his sometimes stinky, always colorful escapades aboard the multi-billion dollar Olympic gravy train. The only requirement was that you spell their names correctly and that the story appeared on the first page, above the fold.

Guelfi was smarter than those of us who covered the six Olympics I wrote about in the newspaper days. He knew that the boxcars reporting of global criminal investigations and the hearings in the US Congress on charges of corruption, embezzlement, embezzlement and racketeering from the IOC would derail as the athletes took center stage. scene.

Sport is the pinnacle of glorious distractions. That was Sardine’s calculation – because the 3.2 billion fans who watch the Olympic show on TV still prefer heroes over villains. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. Everything else doesn’t make sense.

So far.

COVID-19 may be the only villain the Olympic pageantry can’t whitewash. The coronavirus has buried more than 4.5 million people worldwide, including 15,000 in Japan. Only the Tokyo mass graves are at full capacity. The government has ordered the liberation of the stadiums, the silenced spectators and the reception tents of emptied companies. Yet the “masters of the universe” demand that Japan’s $ 25 billion performance – the most expensive in Olympic history – continue.

The reason, of course, is the money.

The postponement of the Games from 2020 to 2021 left them gargling in red ink. The IOC derives nearly 75 percent of its income from the sale of broadcasting rights. Estimates suggest he would lose between $ 3 billion and $ 4 billion if the games were canceled. And have a thought for the 126 million people of Japan, 83% of them unvaccinated and paying around $ 19 billion from the locked-in extravagance bill and have no way of getting more than 820 back. million dollars in ticket sales.

“How to prevent people enjoying the Olympics from going out for drinks is a major problem,” Japan’s Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said. According to Japanese Olympic coronavirus protocols, anyone caught having fun risks being arrested and, if they are a foreigner, being deported.

The arrival of IOC President Thomas Bach at Narita Airport in Tokyo coincided with the onset of a fifth wave of COVID-19 and the announcement by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of a state of six-week emergency due to the increase in the number of cases. Bach was taken past anti-Olympic protesters to the lavish Okura Hotel for a three-day self-quarantine, an in-room dining menu that advises a $ 40 plus tax serving of soy milk and sea urchin skin with starchy soy sauce, and a lobby of sympathetic Japanese officials would be too timid to officially ask for a few dollars more than the IOC’s $ 1.3 billion investment in the Tokyo Games.

The unease left Bach looking for a big televised move to distract from the number of COVID-19 victims, ultimately becoming the frontrunner to win the 2021 Olympic gold medal in cognitive dissonance for his sprint to Hiroshima. It was there that a 15 kiloton nuclear explosion in 1945 killed more than 135,000 people and triggered the greatest untreated human trauma before the coronavirus. The pilgrimage of the IOC Vice-President, John Coates, to meet the 64,000 radioactive ghosts of Nagasaki is chosen to recover the money.

Never mind that civic organizations in both cities said the fissile waterfall “dishonored” what had happened in their communities. The indignation was palpable. They sent Bach a petition signed by over 40,000 people, all begging him to call off the events. But the IOC is only inspired by Mount Olympus, where the modern-day Muse Otter likely ordered Bach to heed the wisdom he offered to another distressed Greek life organization in the film Animal House. :

“This situation absolutely requires some futile and stupid gesture to be made on the part of someone.”

This is what the Greek gods – who inspired the games and whose mythologies the IOC enthusiastically embraces – called pride. It was a crime and the judges of ancient Greece did not hesitate to condemn. Sometimes the sanction was left in the hands of a higher authority. “After Hubris,” wrote a Greek poet, “comes Nemesis,” the goddess of justice appointed by Zeus to visit Earth in the form of a goose. Even Croesus couldn’t buy Nemesis.

But the IOC has better cash flow than Lydia’s King and Tokyo is just another goose to pluck. The next stop of the fellowship is Beijing 2022, followed by Paris 2024. Once the masters of the universe leave the city, whatever financial woes, political chaos or medical calamities left for them are of no consequence. , as was the case in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Salt Lake City and all other host cities.

The Sardine once bitterly joked that the IOC’s interest in changing his behavior rarely went beyond ordering anything other than a giant shrimp cocktail from the room service menu. I suggest they taste the Okura vinegar-steeped $ 30 seaweed bowl.

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Spain to promote revival of Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Olympic winter bid in Tokyo with new government support

After the project was stalled at the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, Spanish officials are expected to talk about relaunching the bid for the Pyrenees-Barcelona 2030 Olympic Winter Games next week in Tokyo as the Postponed 2020 Olympics begin.

The President of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco, said El Mundo Deportivo that the candidacy received the critical support of the government at several levels of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and regional leaders Pere Aragones of Catalonia and Javier Lambán representing Aragon. The proposed project includes sites covering the two regions of northern Spain.

Letters confirming this new support and firm intentions to bid have been sent to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Switzerland, where they will receive the attention of the President of the Commission of the future host of the Winter Games, Octavian Morariu.

Additionally, Blanco said he would hand deliver the letters to IOC President Thomas Bach in Tokyo next week.

“In addition to sending the letters to the IOC headquarters in Switzerland, I will also take a copy of the four letters with me to Tokyo – mine and that of the three presidents – which I will give to President Thomas Bach during the Olympic session on CIO. which takes place during the Tokyo Olympics, ”Blanco said.

“It is very important that we all go hand in hand with the IOC, and when we consider that the project is finished, it will be time to present it.”

The race to host the 2030 Winter Games will quickly come to the fore once the IOC awards the 2032 Summer Games to Brisbane, as is expected to happen on Wednesday during the all-members session of the organization held ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Last month, Bach said that the IOC seized the opportunity to award Australia its third Olympic Games four years earlier than the usual deadline, but that the earlier Winter Games required more effort to be organized and that this would happen at a later date.

The new application process introduced by the IOC in 2019 removed fixed deadlines and one-on-one campaigns to allow the ongoing discussions between the IOC and interested candidates to come to a natural conclusion. Brisbane is the first Olympic host candidate to be named the preferred candidate by current affairs rules, after months of ongoing discussions.

Brisbane got to the table first and quickly, giving the offer a marked advantage that was important during the pandemic. Spain’s run to the table moments after Brisbane’s expected crowning glory could be a big boost to this offer.

The campaign for the 2030 Games took place behind closed doors in accordance with the new IOC process, with Salt Lake City having made it clear that it wanted to host its second Games in 2030 or 2034. Vancouver has expressed interest in resuming the Games. 2010 to be successful in 2030., but postponed a possible campaign until later in the year. Sapporo’s prior interest in Japan is now questionable due to the difficulties with the postponement of the Tokyo Games.

The proposed plan includes ice events and ceremonies centered on Barcelona, ​​host of the 1992 Summer Games, and snow events would be held in the mountainous regions of Catalonia and Aragon.

“The Pyrenees of Aragon offer a wider candidacy with more possibilities, and we cannot forget that in the Aragonese Pyrenees many people live, understand and support winter and ice sports,” said Blanco.

But the head of the Argon region Javier Lambán said he was on the verge of withdrawing his participation in the candidacy after seeing the letter written by his Catalan counterpart to the IOC which hinted that the two regions would not have equal participation in the project and Catalonia would have priority.

Blanco said El Mundo Deportivo that was not the case, and details of the project will be developed when the parties meet in September, with equality a guiding principle.

“It must be the Winter Olympics of understanding and dialogue, and everything will be done by mutual agreement to present the best bid with everyone’s agreement,” Blanco said.

If successful, Barcelona would be the second city to host the summer and winter editions of the Games. Beijing will become the first to host both versions when China hosts the Winter Games next February.

Milan-Cortina in Italy will host the Winter Games in 2026.

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Utah City Leaders Call on Senators Romney and Lee to Support Immigration Reform Bills

Mikhail Shneyder, President and CEO of Nightingale College, joins a group calling on Utah senators to support bipartisan immigration reform at a press conference at the World Trade Center Utah offices in Salt Lake City on Wednesday July 14, 2021 (Scott G Winterton, Déseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah civic and business leaders, DACA recipients, and former undocumented immigrants have called on the Senses. Utah’s Mike Lee and Mitt Romney on Wednesday backing bipartisan immigration reform bills on Wednesday, citing economic and moral imperatives.

Executives at the event, held at the Utah World Trade Center, highlighted the important role immigrants play in Utah’s economy. As Utah emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, like most countries, it faces a severe labor shortage. The labor shortage is expected to persist as Utah’s unemployment rate trims to pre-pandemic levels and nearly 95% of Utah’s DACA-eligible population is employed.

Utah continues to be a place where immigrants contribute to the rich fabric of our community. Immigrants to Utah are entrepreneurs, they are teachers, they are leaders, they are part of our family.

–Derek Miller, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce

Bob Worsley, founder of SkyMall and co-chair of the Intermountain chapter of the American Business Immigration Coalition, said immigration reform is critical to the growth of the United States as it faces declining birth rates and a generation which withdraws in waves. Worsley stressed that in order to continue competing with countries like China or India, the United States must view immigration as an immediate solution.

“With the passage of the House of dream act and the Agricultural Workforce Modernization Act we are on the verge of enacting much-needed bipartisan immigration reform to help move our economy forward. Immigration is the main engine of economic growth in the United States and that means welcoming new immigrants, ”said Worsley, a former Republican state senator.

He continued, “We need to change the rhetoric in America about immigration. We need to stop slandering them and help Americans understand that large numbers of future Americans must enter legally through modern ports of entry with visas. legal issues issued by modern immigration systems. Nativism will not lead to growth in the United States (gross domestic product). Translation: Significant legal immigration leads to prosperity for all. “

The group also advocated for the adoption of the Law on the Safe Environment of Countries Subject to Repression and State of Emergency or SECURE act.

Data from New American Economy, which describes itself as a bipartisan research and advocacy organization and which was a co-sponsor of Wednesday’s event, showed that in 2019, Utah had 272,134 immigrant residents who paid about $ 1.8 billion in taxes and $ 5.8 billion in expenses. Power.

Mikhail Shneyder, President and CEO of Nightingale College, left, shakes hands with Derek Miller, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, after a press conference at the offices of the World Trade Center Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, where they called on Utah senators to support bipartisan immigration reform.  They were joined by representatives from the Intermountain section of the American Business Immigration Coalition, the New American Economy, the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association and the Mormon Women for Ethical Government.
Mikhail Shneyder, President and CEO of Nightingale College, left, shakes hands with Derek Miller, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, after a press conference at the offices of the World Trade Center Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, where they called on Utah senators to support bipartisan immigration reform. They were joined by representatives from the Intermountain section of the American Business Immigration Coalition, the New American Economy, the Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association and the Mormon Women for Ethical Government. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

“Utah continues to be a place where immigrants contribute to the rich fabric of our community. Immigrants to Utah are entrepreneurs, they are teachers, they are leaders, they are part of our family. billions of dollars in economic activity and they brighten up the landscape of our state. Utah is a place of compromise and goodwill and we call upon these virtues to be a guide for our national leaders, “he said. said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Data provided by New American Economy indicates that immigrant entrepreneurs in 2019 generated total business income of $ 349 million. Among these entrepreneurs is the CEO of Nightingale College, Mikhail Schneyder.

“The issue of immigration reform is deeply personal to me. I came to the United States at the age of 19 to escape persecution in my homeland, ethnic persecution and in the hope of finding the American dream, ”Schneyder said.

Schneyder learned English, became a registered nurse, obtained American citizenship, earned an MBA from the University of California at Berkeley, and then built and ran Nightingale College. Schneyder said Nightingale relies on a diverse workforce, looking for immigrants to fill positions ranging from service to leadership.

The variety of labor needs is reflected in immigrants who are more likely to have a graduate degree than those born in the United States, but are also less likely to have less than a degree. ‘secondary studies. The spectrum allows immigrants to fill shortages at both ends of employment needs, from high-tech fields to agriculture, hospitality and service industries.

Several leaders expressed the labor shortage in the service industry and stressed the importance of immigrants who are ready to fill these roles.

Mayra Cedano, executive director of Comunidades Unidas, calls on Utah senators to support bipartisan immigration reform during a press conference at the offices of the World Trade Center Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 14, 2021.
Mayra Cedano, executive director of Comunidades Unidas, calls on Utah senators to support bipartisan immigration reform during a press conference at the offices of the World Trade Center Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

But Mayra Cedano, a former undocumented immigrant and current executive director of Comunidades Unidas, said this crucial moment for immigration reform goes beyond the economy.

“When this country called on our workers to step up and support our communities as frontline workers, the undocumented workers were there. They quickly became the essential workers who chose the food we eat, built the neighborhoods we live in, cleaned homes and businesses, stocked our shelves, taught our own children, ”Cedano said. “Essential immigrant workers have continually put their health and that of their families on the line to protect us all, but many immigrant workers fear that they will not be able to see their families at the end of the day due to the risk of deportation.”

Sixty-nine percent of all immigrant U.S. workers and 74 percent of undocumented workers are essential workers, according to data from the Center for Migration Studies.

“We cannot be both deportable and essential. The time has come for a grateful nation to step up. Essential workers without permanent legal status should be recognized as the Americans they already are,” Cedano added.

The event was sponsored by the American Business Immigration Coalition Intermountain Chapter, Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, New American Economy, Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association, Utah World Trade Center, and Mormon Women for Ethical Government.


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Salt lake city government

Scam texts hit Utah as confusion persists over stimulus payments

With the many stimulus programs aimed at helping people get back on their feet after the pandemic, scammers have turned to texting to rip you off. (Matt Gephart, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY – There have been a lot of programs and a lot of stimulus money aimed at helping people get back on their feet after the pandemic.

This week, the federal government will launch another program to help Americans with children.

All of this has left a lot of people confused – and this confusion is playing into the hands of the crooks.

A new text message did the trick. It refers to the Directorate of Employment Development. It refers to the unemployment pandemic assistance program. It refers to stimulus payments and wants you to click on a link to claim your benefit.

This is of course a scam.

People who click on the link may download malware or be tricked into giving their personal information to an identity thief.

The US Department of the Treasury was warning about stimuli-related scams for more than a year.

“The US government continues to encounter cases of criminals using stimulus-themed emails and texts to trick individuals into providing personally identifiable information and bank details,” an IRS spokesperson said. . “The IRS will not call you, text you, contact you by email, or contact you on social media to ask for personal or banking information, even in connection with payments. economic impact.”

Specifically, the IRS has warned consumers to be wary of attachments or links claiming to have special information about economically impacting payments or refunds.

To report a CARES Act fraud or other financial crime, the IRS has asked you to contact your local secret service office.

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Data confusion means Utah ultimately failed to meet the 70% COVID-19 vaccination target; state sees 1,238 weekend cases

Doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine await recipients at the Central Davis Senior Activity Center in Kaysville on July 6, 2021. Data confusion means Utah missed its 70% vaccination target on July 4 after all, health officials said Monday. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – State health officials have said they misinterpreted some federal government immunization data, which means only about 67% of adults in Utah have at least a first dose of the COVID vaccine- 19 instead of the 70% previously reported.

The error means Utah failed to meet Governor Spencer Cox’s goal of having at least 70% of adults in the state vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4 after all.

“We screwed up. And I sincerely apologize,” Cox wrote in a letter to the Utahns on Monday.

On Monday, the Utah Department of Health reported 1,238 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend – 495 Friday, 486 Saturday and 264 Sunday.

The average number of positive cases per day over seven rolling days in Utah is now 447, according to the Department of Health. The rate of positive tests per day for this period calculated with the “person-to-person” method is now 12.3%. The rate of positive tests per day for this period calculated with the “test on test” method is now 8.2%.

The discrepancy in immunization data stems from vaccines that were administered in Utah by federal government agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Indian Health Services.

These administered doses are reported through a data system called Tiberius, which is different from the Utah state data system. Tiberius’ data is not automatically fed into the state’s immunization data system, so health officials have to interpret it manually.

Health officials have interpreted around 30,000 doses reported via Tiberius as new doses, but these are in fact cumulative doses, the health ministry said in a statement on Monday. Some single doses were therefore counted more than once.

“It is disappointing to find that we have not met our goal of vaccinating 70% of adults with at least one dose by July 4. And we regret that inaccurate information has been passed on to Governor Cox and the people of Utah, ”the Department of Health said. mentionned. “But we remain true to our commitment to present data in a manner that is accurate, transparent and with integrity. “

There have been 29,880 doses reported to Tiberius, health officials said. Combined with state totals, 1,525,632 Utahns aged 18 and over received at least one first dose of the vaccine. Dividing that total by Utah’s adult population in 2019 of 2,274,774 shows that 67.07% of Utah adults had at least one first dose on Monday, and not the 70.2% that was reported on Monday. last week, according to the health department.

A total of 1,607,690 Utahns, or about 50.1% of the state’s population, have now received at least one first dose of the vaccine, according to the health department. A total of 1,433,575 Utahns, or about 44.7% of the population, are now fully immunized. Among Utahns aged 12 and older, who are currently eligible for vaccines, about 62% have received at least a first dose and 55.3% are fully vaccinated, the health department reported on Monday.

The state’s data team told the governor’s office that the 70% target had been met, and they were “surprised and excited and a little skeptical,” Cox wrote in the letter. His office waited a few days while the numbers were checked twice and thrice for accuracy before releasing the news.

But a few days later, heads of state discovered there was an error in the way the federal doses were counted.

“While sharing federal data has been extremely difficult, this one is upon us. Our data team is devastated and embarrassed. And so am I.,” Cox wrote.

He added that the error appears to be the result of simple human error and that there was no evidence of ethical misconduct in the confusion.

“Our data team at the Department of Health has been amazing throughout this pandemic. Sometimes working around the clock, these officials have been recognized as one of the most in-depth and transparent data teams in the country. While this miscalculation is inexcusable, they have re-examined the processes to prevent this type of error from happening again, ”Cox said.

Utah Senate Speaker J. Stuart Adams tweeted his appreciation for Cox’s apology on Monday.

“I appreciate (Governor Cox’s) transparency and his dedication to sharing accurate information,” Adams said.

While data confusion is an unfortunate slowdown in the state’s efforts to push vaccines as far as possible, state leaders have said the 70% target is somewhat arbitrary. Cox added that this means state leaders have even more work to do to get more Utahns vaccinated.

“We will continue to do all we can to make vaccinations easier and more accessible,” Cox’s letter said.

There are now 220 COVID-19 patients currently hospitalized in Utah, including 93 in intensive care, according to state data. About 73% of all intensive care unit beds in Utah are now occupied, including about 75% of the beds in the state’s 16 referral hospitals. About 56% of non-ICU hospital beds in Utah hospitals are now occupied.

The six deaths reported on Monday were:

  • Davis County man who was between 45 and 64 and was not hospitalized when he died
  • Woman from Tooele County, 65 to 84, hospitalized after death
  • Utah County woman aged 65 to 84 who was hospitalized when she died
  • Two Washington County men aged 65 to 84 hospitalized when they die
  • Weber County woman aged 65 to 84 admitted to hospital after death

Of the 2,834,431 people tested for COVID-19 in Utah so far, 14.8% have tested positive for COVID-19. The total number of tests performed in Utah since the start of the pandemic is now 5,171,309, up from 14,294 since Friday, health officials reported. Of those, 8,835 were tests of people who had never been tested for COVID-19.

Monday’s totals give Utah 420,214 total confirmed cases, with 17,820 total hospitalizations and 2,399 total deaths from the disease. According to the health department, seven cases of COVID-19 were removed from the tally for the previous days thanks to data analysis.

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