A third resident of Grand County died of COVID-19 recently. The Southeast Utah Health Department said it received notification of the death on Feb. 18. The individual who passed away was a male between the ages of 45-64 and was hospitalized at the time of death.

Update from Southeast Utah Health Department

Grand County Commissioner shared an update from the director of the health department, Brady Bradford, during the county commission meeting on Tuesday. Bradford said that over 1,100 Grand County residents have received at least the first dose of the vaccine and that City Market is now receiving and giving the shots.

We expect another 450-460 first doses and another 300 second doses to be administered by the end of the month.

Southeast Utah Health Department Director Brady Bradford, Feb. 16

Supply remains the bottleneck.

Bradford also said that the bottleneck the department still faces is the number of vaccines it receives. This is as opposed to the department’s ability to administer doses or demand for the doses. However, he department staff “have been told to expect a significant increase by the middle of March, perhaps even by the first of March.”

The current rate of vaccinations is about 600 per week across Grand, Carbon, and Emery counties. Once the number of vaccines the area receives increases, Bradford said a few things will change.

First, the health department will distribute more vaccines to partners like City Market who want to help vaccinate, and the department will “likely shift” to a model where it administers all of a single week’s doses in one county then rotates to the next county the next week.

This allows our staff to support each other in the clinics. As more and more locations receive direct shipment of vaccines, it will also mean that there will be continued access in the community. We have reached out to Nomi [Health] and the National Guard to see if they have the ability to help as well, in which case we might be able to continue having 1 clinic per week in each county.

Southeast Utah Health Department Director Brady Bradford, Feb. 16

What is Nomi Health?

I asked Bradford later about the Nomi Health part. The company is a health startup that won the state contract to provide vaccines, and they have been involved with COVID-19 testing in Utah, as well.

Walgreens had the contract to deliver vaccines to the Canyonlands Care Facility back in January but failed to deliver, according to Bradford, so Moab Regional Hospital stepped in to provide the residents vaccine doses via the surplus from what the hospital received for its own staff.

In other words: Private contractors have failed Moab once already during vaccine distribution, but Bradford told me that Nomi might be different.

So far they’ve proved more able but they’ve just been helping on the Wasatch front. I don’t know if that’ll translate to rural areas.

Southeast Utah Health Department Director Brady Bradford, Feb. 19

The next round of eligible recipients

Although Utah has expanded vaccine eligibility to anyone 65 years of age or older, the Southeast Utah Health Department has not started in on vaccinating that population yet.

We hope to be able to open up a month’s worth of appointments at one time, but are waiting to hear what our minimum number of vaccines will be.

Southeast Utah Health Department Director Brady Bradford, Feb. 16

As for locals 70 and older who want to be vaccinated, Bradford advised that they call the Moab office at 435-259-5602 to be put on the waiting list. He said the department has “moved through the waiting list very quickly in the last 2 weeks.”

Second shots

Finally, Bradford said that nearly everyone so far who has gotten their first shot has returned for their second — about 95% he said.

About 15-20% of people that receive their second dose experience enough discomfort to remain home, and another significant percent feel crummy for 12-24 hours.

Southeast Utah Health Department Director Brady Bradford, Feb. 16

Designated routes for off-highway vehicles

This bill appears to be dead. It is currently circled on the agenda, meaning the state senate will not return to it until the sponsor asks to do so. The current version also has a curfew of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., which is nowhere near the 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. curfew that municipalities would have been able to set.

I asked Mayor Emily Niehaus, who is running the bill through Sen. Mike McKell, and she said:

Right now, I’m listening to comments on the floor of the Senate and waiting in anticipation for the 3rd reading. We continue to support the bill as it was written, and we support McKell in working to get “something” passed.

Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus, Feb. 19

Working to just get “something” passed feels to me like a pretty weak sentiment. I think Moab residents want a little more than “something,” and being awakened by an OHV at 6:01 a.m. doesn’t seem like a great outcome to this.

However, from a conversation I had with Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan earlier today, it sounds like the opposition to the bill is pointing at Moab police and the Grand County Sheriff’s department and asking them why they haven’t tried enforcing the localities’ noise ordinances.

It sounds like that will be the next step, here: Look deeper at the issue of enforcing existing noise ordinances. A rumor that I have not verified is that other Utah municipalities on the Wasatch front already do noise ordinance enforcement on OHVs, but I have not yet tried to verify that.

From my conversation with Sloan, it sounds like it probably won’t be that police and deputies pull over OHVs, write a citation for being loud, and move on with their day. For a judge to uphold such a charge, an officer has to do a pretty rigorous test that requires at least two people to do optimally, so it is far from as simple as giving out speeding tickets.

It’s more like testing for sobriety, but with lower stakes.

TRT reform

This bill is on its way to becoming law. It passed with no opposition in the house. I wrote about it this week and am not going to bother linking that story because it is already past 5 p.m.

Billboards amendments (SB 144)

As I mentioned before, this bill is sponsored by Moab’s own Sen. David Hinkins. It’s made government officials in Moab mad, but Moab is a minority of his constituency, so he doesn’t really care. That didn’t stop him from running the permit-less concealed carry bill, either.

The Utah League of Cities and Towns has a talking points memo about why it is opposed to this bill.1 The thing on which opponents and proponents of the bill seem to agree is that, if it became law, it would limit municipalities’ ability to regulate land use as it relates to billboards.

As I’ve said, I think it might be okay to tie municipalities’ and counties’ hands when it comes to certain housing policies to hamstring neighborhood defenders.

But, disempowering people who are opposed to the use of billboards seems unimportant to me. It doesn’t seem like a market that needs deregulation. But maybe I should become an absolutist on the issue of restricting land use.

Regardless, the bill got a 5-2-1 favorable recommendation from the senate committee that considered it, the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee, during a hearing Friday morning. That is so far the only vote to which it has been subject.

The chair of the Grand County Commission wants you to support establishing Utahraptor State Park.

Email from Grand County Commission Chair Mary McGann1:

To help encourage the Utah legislators to vote in favor of the Utahraptor State Park HB257 we are gathering tax deductible pledges to demonstrate our support. The Utah House of Representatives will be voting on this as early as Monday of next week, February 22, so time is of the essence. I have attached a PDF that has further info and a link to make a pledge. Until the Bill has made it through the House, Senate, and the governor has signed the bill we will not be asking for your pledge. Feel free to call if you have questions. Please, forward this to people you think might pledge. Let’s help protect this amazing area by making the Utahraptor State Park come to fruition. We want to match the county’s contribution.

Grand County Commission Chair Mary McGann, Feb. 19

She attached this PDF to the email.1

  1. I have not fact-checked this document. Consume unreviewed information at your own risk.  2 3