Frontline workers start receiving vaccines, tar sands leasing revisited, and withholding teacher bonuses

A second wave of COVID-19 vaccine shipments have arrived in Utah, with more hospitals across the state beginning to give shots to their front-line workers. Another 30 deaths reported, putting Utah’s death toll from COVID-19 at 1,126 Thursday, which marked the end of the virus’s deadliest two weeks since the pandemic began.
Utah lawmakers are adding $400 million to the state’s public school budget this year, including $121 million to provide a $1,500 one-time bonus for licensed educators. However, teachers in the Salt Lake City School District have been excluded from receiving the bonuses, with many lawmakers being frustrated that the district remains the last holdout in returning to in-person classes.
And federal land managers pull the plug on a Utah tar sands lease after the revelation that the applicant was a contractor with the Bureau of Land Management. Vern Jones’ job was to secure rights to federal minerals on behalf of himself and others in the oil and gas business. But for years Jones has also worked as a contract employee inside the Bureau of Land Management’s Utah state office. This long-time arrangement is getting fresh scrutiny as federal regulations bar BLM employees from acquiring an interest in minerals overseen by the agency.
At 9 a.m. on Friday, Salt Lake Tribune reporters Brian Maffly and Sean P. Means, and news columnist Robert Gehrke join KCPW’s Roger McDonough to talk about the week’s top stories. Every Friday at 9 a.m., stream “Behind the Headlines” at kcpw.org, or tune in to KCPW 88.3 FM or Utah Public Radio for the broadcast. Join the live conversation by calling (801) 355-TALK.
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