Live coronavirus updates for Tuesday, April 21: Five new deaths reported but new cases drop; some law school grads will get to practice without passing bar exam

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) COVID-19 testing at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.

Editor’s note: The Salt Lake Tribune is providing readers free access to critical local stories about the coronavirus during this time of heightened concern. See more coverage here. To support journalism like this, please consider donating or become a subscriber.

It’s Tuesday, April 21. We’ll provide the latest coronavirus updates involving Utah throughout the day.

[Read complete coronavirus coverage here.]


6:28 p.m.: Some law school grads will be allowed to practice without passing bar exam

Qualified law school graduates will be allowed to temporarily practice in Utah — without first passing the Utah Bar exam — under certain restrictions, the Utah Supreme Court announced Tuesday.

Applicants will be allowed if they agree to practice under the supervision of an experienced attorney for 360 hours and either graduate from a law school with a high score or are currently in good standing and licensed in another jurisdiction.

This is a temporary accommodation designed to provide relief to certain applicants who had applied to take the Utah bar examination in July 2020 but will be unable to do so because of public health concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the court said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“We know that applicants invest several weeks and thousands of dollars preparing to take the bar exam,” stated Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant. “Because of the crisis, not only could we not guarantee that Utah could offer the bar examination safely, we could not tell applicants when they should start to invest the time and money to prepare for the exam.”

To be considered a “Qualified Candidate,” the applicant must either be a law school graduate or an attorney in good standing in another jurisdiction, and must have submitted an application to take the Utah bar examination on or before April 1, 2020.

The Utah Supreme Court explored a number of possible solutions, including administering the exam under social distancing protocols or permitting these applicants to work under the “third-year practice rule” until an exam could be offered.

Because the examination is administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners, certain potential paths, like remote examination, may at some point become available, but it is unclear when, or even if, that might occur, the statement said.

“We hope that the bar exam will in some form become available sooner than is now anticipated,” Durrant said in the statement, “but at present, the other solutions we have examined have an unacceptable level of uncertainty for applicants and employers.”

On April 9, 2020, the Utah Supreme Court circulated a draft proposal that would provide a one-time path to licensure for some recent law school graduates. The proposal drew more than 500 comments and sparked national interest. After reviewing those comments, the Court revised the order to include certain applicants licensed to practice in another state and expanded the category of those who can serve as supervisors to the applicants.Applicants must meet several requirements to qualify for alternative admission. The requirements are designed to ensure that the attorneys admitted to practice under this rule are as competent as those admitted after passing the two-day, 12-hour bar examination.

— Kathy Stephenson

2:45 p.m.: Free meals for first responders at McDonald’s

Health care workers, police officers, firefighters and paramedics can get free “Thank You Meals” at McDonald’s.

The free food will be available via drive-thru and carryout starting Wednesday and continuing through May 5.

Front-line workers can choose an Egg McMuffin, Chicken McGriddles or a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit for breakfast or a double cheeseburger, six-piece Chicken McNuggets or a Filet-O-Fish sandwich for lunch or dinner. All options come with a drink and a side of hash browns or small fries.

They will be served in McDonald’s iconic Happy Meal boxes. Valid ID required. Limit one per person per day. Menu options may vary by restaurant. Visit McDonalds.com for more details.

— Kathy Stephenson

2:45 p.m.: Utah food banks will receive $100K from KFC

The Pete and Arline Harman Trust Fund, named for the founders of KFC restaurants, will donate $100,000 to food banks in Salt Lake City — as well as Denver, Seattle, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area, officials announced Tuesday.

Few people outside Utah know that the first Kentucky Fried Chicken, now KFC, was located in the Salt Lake City area. It launched in 1952, when Leon “Pete” Harman, owner of the Do Drop Inn at 3900 S. State St., decided to add a chicken entree to his menu — prepared by his good friend Col. Harland Sanders.

The friends sealed their fried-chicken partnership with a handshake. Harman died in 2014 at age 96. “We find ourselves quoting Pete more and more these days in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, especially one of his favorite phrases,” officials said. ‘It’s just the right thing to do.’"

— Kathy Stephenson

2:40 p.m.: Subway launches buy a sandwich, give a meal campaign

Buy a 12-inch sandwich at Subway and the fast-food chain will donate a meal to someone in need.

Subway has partnered with Feeding America — the nation’s largest hunger-relief program — for this campaign, officials said in a news release. It plans to donate 15 million meals to food banks around the country through April.

Feeding America served 40 million people last year, but this year it already has seen an increase of 17 million people needing assistance, CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, said in a news release. The organization is unprepared to meet this demand and is struggling to find additional resources to help everyone in need.

“Feeding America network food banks have seen an unprecedented increase in need for food assistance across the communities they serve,” she said. “Subway’s donation of 15 million meals will help ease the burden felt by our neighbors struggling with hunger so they can instead focus on navigating this difficult time with their families.”

— McKhelyn Jones

1:25 p.m.: Utah receives nearly $6.2 million in federal cash to help older adults and people with disabilities

Nearly $6.2 million in federal cash is coming to Utah to help older adults and people with disabilities as they cope with the pandemic and steps aimed at preventing its spread.

Grants made with the money through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living will pay for additional home-delivered meals, in-home and respite care and an array of support services for families and caregivers, officials said.

The spending is part of $955 million nationwide provided for aging adults and those of all ages with disabilities under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and its $2.2 trillion in spending, signed into law on March 27.

Lance Robertson, administrator of the Administration for Community Living, said in a statement the cash would “will allow for an incredible response at the state and local level to meet the needs of people who are facing some of the greatest risks during the COVID-19 emergency.”

Those over 60 years old are considered more vulnerable to the respiratory virus and family visitation to group living settings around the country is now being restricted to limit infection.

Included in this CARES Act funding for Utah are:

• $1.3 million for help with personal care, household chores, grocery shopping and essential transportation through Home and Community Based Services, so that larger numbers of elderly adults in the state can shelter in place to lessen COVID-19 exposure.

• $3.1 million for home-delivered meals, including options for drive-thru and curbside pickups for those typically served at community centers and other sites now closed due to social distancing.

• $941,295 to Centers for Independent Living for added support and services for disabled residents who are seeing disruptions to their living situations due to the outbreak.

• $622,480 to expand counseling, respite care, training and information for family members and others caring for loved ones at home, through the National Family Caregiver Support Program.

• $76,760 for nutrition and related services provided by tribal organizations in providing meals and other help to Native American elders.

• $130,021 for consumer advocacy on behalf of residents in long-term care facilities, through the state Long-term Care Ombudsman. The money is meant to let these advocates hire additional staff and purchase personal protective equipment and new technology for virtual services.

Nearly $50 million of new CARES Act money for the elderly and disabled nationally will be spread in late April among Aging and Disability Resource Centers across the country. These federally backed sites are reportedly seeing increased demand for their services, including from families seeking help in navigating new visitation rules in light of the pandemic.

— Tony Semerad

1:15 p.m.: JetBlue cutting hours among Utah workers to survive

JetBlue, which employs about 2,000 Utahns at its customer service operations based here, is trying to survive by asking workers to choose among such options as a cut of 15% in paid hours, taking the summer off with some perks or early retirement.

“With flights below 150 daily [compared to a normal of about 1,000] and our aircraft now only about 10% full, we will have far less work and fewer hours for every salaried and hourly crew member,” airline CEO Robin Hayes wrote to employees last week.

He said the airline is using money that it accepted as part of a coronavirus survival package passed by Congress to preserve jobs. But it provides only about 56% of what payroll costs were during a six-month period last year.

An airline statement to The Salt Lake Tribune said, “We are offering our front line, salaried and support center crew members a variety of programs — such as guaranteed minimum hours, unpaid time off and early retirement — which vary by work group.”

In Utah, some were told that jobs will be preserved but paid hours may be reduced by 15%. Some are given the option of taking the summer off while retaining health care benefits, plus receiving 20 flight vouchers good for two years along with car rental and travel vouchers. Some who choose early retirement also are offered flight and travel perks.

“As the coronavirus situation continues to disrupt our industry, we’ll continue to evaluate cost savings initiatives,” the airline’s statement said. “We continue taking steps to maintain our financial security and protect the future of JetBlue while also continuing to provide essential air service.”

Delta Air Lines — which had provided 73% of departures from Salt Lake City International Airport — previously reported more than 30,000 of its employees took unpaid leaves of absence to help it survive, but said it needed even more.

— Lee Davidson

12:40 p.m.: Three of Utah’s new deaths connected to a long-term care facility

The five new deaths reported Tuesday in Utah were all hospitalized patients over age 60 with underlying health conditions, state epidemiologist Angela Dunn and the Salt Lake County Health Department said.

“Two of them were residents of a long-term care facility associated outbreak,” she said; a Utah Department of Health spokesman later said they were from two separate facilities.

Three were from Salt Lake County and one was from Weber County, she said.

Later Tuesday, Salt Lake County Health Department spokesman Nicholas Rupp reported a fifth death. He said that person, too, was over the age of 60 and his or her infection resulted from a stay at a long-term care facility.

Half of the state’s deaths, 16 out of 32, have been residents infected at a long-term care facility, she noted. “This number, while tragic, it could be a lot higher, as we have seen in other states where a single long-term care facility outbreak has resulted in more deaths than this.”

Staff at Utah’s care facilities are “doing a great job,” she said, crediting them for quickly identifying and isolating those who are sick, and caring for all residents’ physical and mental health. “So thank you to all of the long-term care facility staff out there who are essential in this response.”

Meanwhile, the rate of Utahns testing positive for COVID-19 has fallen half a percentage point, she noted. Utah had been holding steady with 5% of tests resulting in a positive, but Dunn said that has fallen to 4.5%.

Another 4,047 COVID-19 test results were reported Tuesday. Dunn has been encouraging Utahns to get tested even if they have only one, mild symptom of the virus. The state had been averaging between 2,000 and 3,000 tests per day, with Dunn saying the state had capacity for more tests.

— Nate Carlisle

12:15 p.m.: Utah reports five new deaths from COVID-19

Five more Utahns have died from COVID-19, agencies reported Tuesday.

The state’s death toll from the disease now stands at 33. This is the eighth straight day another person in Utah has died from COVID-19, although the death reported Monday occurred out of the state.

The Utah Department of Health reported four deaths about noon. The Salt Lake County Health Department reported another death later in the afternoon.

Utah now has 3,296 COVID-19 cases. The state added 83 cases from Monday — a 3% increase. The state health department said 277 people have been hospitalized, up from 268 on Monday.

— Nate Carlisle

9:50 a.m.: Utah company donating hands-free shoes to medical workers

A Utah footwear company is donating 1,000 pairs of hands-free shoes to health care workers to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

KIZIK, a 3-year-old company based in Vineyard, makes custom, hands-free shoes from an aerospace-grade titanium band, which fits around the heel and holds the foot securely in place, CEO Monte Deere said in a news release. “If you don’t have to use your hands to put on, take off, or lace up your shoes, the likelihood of coronavirus traveling from shoes to hands will be reduced.”

A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that COVID-19 may travel on shoes and that the footwear of medical staff in particular could be carriers.

“When this CDC study broke,” Deere noted, “we immediately realized our shoes could help front-line health care workers.”

Medical professionals can request their free KIZIK shoes by visiting kizik.com/germfree.

— Kathy Stephenson