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‘The Rundown’: Stewart suggests China intentionally let COVID spread worldwide

Your Tuesday morning Utah political cheat sheet

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Good Tuesday morning Utah!

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Romney is the first GOP senator to support Jan. 6 commission

Monday evening Sen. Mitt Romney became the first Republican in the Senate to publicly back the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection.

Axios reports Romney said he “would support” the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he plans to hold a vote on the bill soon.

The bill needs 10 Republican votes to pass the Senate.


Stewart suggests China intentionally spread COVID-19 across the globe

Rep. Chris Stewart appeared as a guest on right-wing Newsmax TV Monday evening, where he was asked if it’s possible China intentionally released COVID-19 from a lab in Wuhan. Stewart didn’t take the bait on that question, but he did suggest China maliciously let the virus spread to other countries when they saw the economic damage it would do to their country.

“They made a determination if they’re going to suffer from this, the rest of the world is as well,” said Stewart. “It’s hard to understand the malicious nature of that decision.”

In the early stages of the pandemic, China locked down the area containing Wuhan. However, Stewart said they did not stop their citizens from traveling across the globe, which was a reckless decision.

There is increasing evidence that the virus may have manufactured origins. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that U.S. intelligence reports say several workers at the virology lab in Wuhan were hospitalized in November of 2019 with symptoms similar to COVID-19.

Stewart says the possibility that the virus may have escaped from a lab deserves a full investigation.

“Did China know that it had escaped from a lab? Did they cover that up? If so, they’re responsible for millions of deaths and trillions of dollars of economic damage,” he said.


Here’s what you need to know for Tuesday morning

George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer one year ago today.

  • Floyd’s murder left an indelible impact on the state. [Tribune]

  • A summer of protests following Floyd’s murder hit Utah. Here’s a look back at our coverage. [Tribune]

  • Negotiators in Congress are hopeful they’ll be able to reach a deal on legislation overhauling policing following Floyd’s death [CNN].

Local News

  • Rep. Kera Birkeland says she’ll bring her bill barring transgender athletes from participating in girl’s sports back to the 2022 Legislature. [Tribune]

  • A group of tribes is launching an ad campaign urging President Joe Biden to fulfill his promise to restore the Bears Ears National Monument. [Tribune]

  • A new report from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget says racial and gender pay gaps among state employees shrink when age, tenure, and other factors are considered. [Tribune]

  • The sale of a landfill near Bluff to a nonprofit organization linked to the LDS Church is coming under renewed scrutiny. [Tribune]

  • Oops! HBO’s John Oliver paid a Salt Lake City TV station to promote a fake product on-air as “sponsored content.” [Tribune]

National news

  • Yikes! A new survey finds 53% of Republicans view Donald Trump as the true president instead of Joe Biden, while 61% believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. [Reuters]

  • Talks on an infrastructure deal are near collapse as Senate Republicans and the White House struggle to find common ground. [Politico]

  • The Justice Department released part of an internal document used to justify not charging President Trump with obstruction in 2019, but the agency will fight an order from a federal judge to make the entire memo public. [WaPo]

  • Nine states have at least 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19. [CNBC].

  • New York City public schools will fully reopen in the fall with no option for online classes. [Gothamist]

  • U.S. citizens are warned against traveling to Japan for the Summer Olympics as the number of coronavirus cases in that country is rising. [CNN]

  • Rand Paul vs. Richard Marx? Sen. Paul blames singer Richard Marx for encouraging violence against him after a suspicious package containing white powder was mailed to his home. Marx tweeted his support for Paul’s neighbor, who pleaded guilty to assaulting Paul in 2017 [Politico]

  • Shoplifting has gotten so bad in San Fransisco, Walgreens is closing 17 stores because it’s impossible to keep them open anymore. [NYT]

  • Texas is set to allow residents to carry handguns without a license. [AP]

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill barring social media companies from blocking political candidates. Experts say the bill is blatantly unconstitutional. [WSJ]

Tuesday’s Utah news roundup

Utah

  • Salt Lake City Cemetery reopens to the public after windstorm damage. [Tribune]

  • 3 Missionary Training Centers to reopen with limited numbers of LDS missionaries. [Tribune]

  • Experts concerned over rise in gun sales, domestic violence cases in Utah. [KUTV]

  • The Salt Lake City Police Department is looking to add more officers after dozens have exited in the past year. [KSL]

  • Work on SLC’s foothill trails halted until at least October. [Tribune]

Washington

  • How Latter-day Saint staffers stay connected on Capitol Hill. [DNews]

COVID-19

  • Utah reports 148 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths. [Tribune]

  • Is heart inflammation a side effect of COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents? Utah doctor says it’s still unclear. [DNews]

  • Will COVID-19 become a seasonal illness? [ABC4]

Environment

  • So you’ve found a baby wild animal. Now what? [Tribune]

  • ‘Keep It Pure’ initiative teaches Utahns to be watchdogs for Wasatch’s water. [DNews]

  • Another dirty little secret about green energy: It needs more mining to support Biden’s plan. [DNews]

  • The line between mountain lion and human habitats is blurring. Here’s why that matters. [DNews]

  • Zion National Park campfire ban among latest batch of Utah fire restrictions. [KSL]

Education

  • BYU offering ‘traditional’ fall semester, full-capacity, no masks. [KUTV]

  • Mask mandates end at some Utah schools. [FOX13]

Economy

  • The money question: Is inflation a blip or a trend that is hitting your wallet? [DNews]

On the Opinion Page

  • Christopher Smart: There is no racism here. Not really. [Tribune]

  • Sema K. Sgaier: Four kinds of people holding us back from full vaccination. [Tribune]

  • Thom Carter: Energy diversity is the key to security. [Tribune]

— Tribune reporter Connor Sanders contributed to this newsletter.