Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There’s been lots of changes and news, especially for Utah farmers and our rural communities.
- Utah farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19 crisis now eligible for SBA loans (Deseret News)
- Utah helps farmers source food to hungry Utah families (Farmers Feeding Utah)
I’ll make this COVID-19 update quick and simple for the week:
- As of May 7th at 1:00 p.m. Utah's private and public laboratories have administered 134,543 tests with 5,724 testing positive. There have been 476 total hospitalizations, with 95 currently hospitalized. There have been 61 fatalities, with an estimated 2,640 recovered. Additional information can be found here.
- Utah’s transmission rate for COVID-19 is 1:1. The state’s robust testing has received accolades across the United States. According to a Harvard Global Health Institute analysis, Utah is one of the nine states that have the testing capacity needed to start reopening. Our state fatality rate is just under 1 percent, which is one of the lowest in the nation.
- Utah’s Unified Command Center will hold a Q&A with credentialed Capitol Hill media next week to discuss and provide background on the 300+ purchases the state has made with 73 vendors during the health crisis. Additionally, Gov. Herbert announced that the Unified Command Center will begin using a more normalized purchasing process even though Utah is still in a state of emergency.
- In Utah's most recent unemployment report for the week of April 26-May 2, the number of new claims filed was 9,057 and 107,711 weekly claims were filed during that same week. A total of $25,978,788 was paid in traditional unemployment benefits, and an additional $46,980,180 of the $600 weekly stimulus was paid out to claimants—a total of $72,958,968 in unemployment benefits for the week. There were 4,166 new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims submitted. Read more here.
- Crisis counseling service grants have been made available to a total of 43 states and the District of Columbia to support programs providing free, confidential counseling through community-based outreach and educational services. Read more here.
- The Department of Labor awarded an additional $10 million in Dislocated Worker Grants in response to the COVID-19 health emergency. The funding comes from the CARES Act and is intended to help address the workforce-related impacts of COVID-19. This brings the total amount of Dislocated Worker Grants awarded to states and territories to $171 million. More information here.
- Utah small businesses renting commercial property who lost revenue as a result of measures taken to minimize the public’s exposure to COVID-19 may receive pandemic relief. During the special session, the Legislature passed S.B. 3006, which appropriated $40 million in commercial property rental assistance. GOMB will oversee the COVID-19 Commercial Rental Assistance Program and administer the grants. Qualifying businesses and nonprofits may apply beginning May 11. More information here.
- On May 4, the Utah Driver License Division began offering additional services by appointment only, including learner permits, original license/out of state transfer, provisional license, motorcycle permits and the motorcycle skills test. Essential services are available on a walk-in basis. Learn more here and here.
- The University of Utah and the University of Utah Health, along with the Utah Department of Health, announced the start of Utah HERO (Health & Economic Recovery Outreach). Households in Utah, Davis, Salt Lake and Summit counties will be randomly selected to participate in a study to accurately determine how far COVID-19 has spread in the state. More information here.
- The Treasury Department began distributing $4.8 billion in critical funds from the CARES act to tribal governments to address COVID-19 preparedness, response, and recovery. The CARES act provides a total of $8 billion to American Indians and Alaska Natives to prevent and respond to the health crisis. Additionally, the Administration allocated over $1 billion through the Indian Health Service to support tribes, tribal organizations and Urban Indian Organizations in their COVID-19 response efforts. Read more here.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services began processing payments from the Provider Relief Fund to hospitals with large numbers of COVID-19 inpatient admissions through April 10, as well as to rural providers. Read more here.
- Zion National Park is expected to increase access to the park starting May 13. More information here.
- Beginning May 5, Capitol Reef National Park will reopen access to day use in the North District (Cathedral Valley) and South District (Waterpocket Fold), and overnight stays in Cedar Mesa campground and Cathedral Valley campground. Learn more here.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $40 million of available funds for the development and coordination of a network of national, state, territorial, tribal and local organizations to deliver COVID-19 related information to minority, rural, and socially vulnerable communities hardest hit by the virus. More information here.
Stay safe and healthy
Senator Ron Winterton