News Clips for May 18-20, 2021

University of Utah will no longer require masks for those fully vaccinated on campus

Those associated with the university are “strongly encouraged to be vaccinated,” according to institution officials. Officials stressed that people are only considered fully-vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Utah Legislature votes to ban schools from requiring face masks this fall

The University of Utah announced Wednesday that face coverings will no longer be mandated in campus buildings beginning Monday, although University of Utah Health facilities will continue to require them.

Utah lawmakers accept $1.65 billion in third wave of COVID-19 funding

It also includes $90 million for a mental health facility at the University of Utah, $15 million for “educational re-engagement and high demand scholarships” and $15 million for emergency communications equipment.

We got $1.6 billion in federal coronavirus relief money. Here’s where Utah will spend it

Roughly $90 million will help establish a mental health institute at the University of Utah.

Two Salt Lake City hospitals 'busier than ever'

"We are all very relieved that the worst seems to be behind us," said Dr. Russell Vinik, chief medical operations officer for University of Utah Healthcare. "We're also very cautious." Vinik says although they are seeing a continued drop new cases and hospitalizations compared to a few months ago, things are not easy at the University of Utah Hospital.

COVID-19 policy updates: Businesses, universities adjust mask rules; Salt Lake Bees to bring back full ballpark capacity

The University of Utah announced a change Wednesday, saying that because of the updated guidelines and recent state legislation it would no longer require maks in its facilities starting May 24. University communications officials noted that masks would continue to be required inside University of Utah Health facilities.

What’s driving Utah’s housing crisis? It’s not what you think, says economist.

James Wood, senior economist with the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, said Utahns at lower incomes are the worst hit by the current housing pinch, leaving them one crisis away from homelessness. “Those folks, you know, every day it’s a pitched battle for them with housing insecurity,” said Wood. “Anything happens — a medical event, auto accident, domestic violence, you know, they’re just in big trouble.”

Utah Lt. Gov. raises vaccine awareness during stop in Glendale

In her time at the mobile clinic, which was set up through University of Utah Health’s Wellness Bus, Henderson took a moment to meet with the nursing team administering the vaccines before meeting with the media to reemphasize and restate Utah’s vaccination efforts against COVID-19.

FBI says Chinese Communist Party poses counterintelligence threats in Utah

Andrew Weyrich, the Vice President for research at the University of Utah said their school was named one of the leading colleges for research. For the past five years or so, Weyrich said they have worked closely with the FBI and others to make sure their research is secure and not stolen — they haven’t had a breach. “We do rely heavily on our investigators,” said Weyrich.

COVID-19: Are we forgetting the kids?

Dr. Andrew Pavia is the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah and director of epidemiology at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital. “We’ve had, you know, well over 400 children hospitalized in Utah. We think we’ve had two deaths. Nationally, more than 300 kids have died… Probably what’s more important if you ask your child is what they don’t want is to get long COVID. They don’t want to be fatigued and failing out of their classes and unable to compete in their sports for several months…These annoying but life-changing side effects are a big deal.”

DHS warns as pandemic restrictions ease, the nation – and Utah – face threats from within

As pandemic restrictions ease, the concern for the rise in threats does not surprise University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora, who also has a background in security and terrorism. “For reasons I will not understand, I think the mask question plays into this, in terms to keep government away and a sense of anger and some quarters about government overstepping into my personal liberty,” he said. “I think the masks issue has become…the politicization of public health. And I think that leaves people feeling intruded upon and marginalized.”

Commentary: Utah law students call for more diversity in the legal profession

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI), in partnership with Justice Lab at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, just released a report on diversity in Utah’s legal community, “Looking in and Leading Out.” We are the authors of that report. To create it, we spent a semester analyzing data, studying the causes and consequences of the field of law’s lack of diversity and learning about best practices to increase diversity.

Brain structures grow differently in boys, men with autism

“With the addition of these time points, we now see that these non-uniform regional volumetric differences really persist into very late childhood,” says co-lead investigator Brandon Zielinski, associate professor of pediatrics and of neurology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Increased monitoring for ischemic stroke may improve care of patients with COVID-19

“This research was the largest cohort to date of patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and ischemic stroke,” Adam de Havenon, MD, assistant professor in the department of neurology at the University of Utah, told Healio Neurology. “We also were able to include data from all of 2020, so it showed the initial decrease in ischemic stroke followed by a rebound to normal or near normal by summer.”

Water official says drought as bad as he's seen, but not yet time to panic

Among the most pressing of circumstances is growth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah has been the fastest-growing state in the nation over the past decade. The University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute predicts Utah’s population will double, reaching more than 6 million residents, by 2065.

Wyoming rocks: Ancient mammal trackway discovered

The discovery is documented in the journal “Scientific Reports” by authors Anton Wroblewski, an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Utah, and Bonnie Gulas-Wroblewski, of the Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute.

Socializing With Peers Is Good Medicine For The Aging Brain, Experts Say

These seniors are feeding their souls and building their brains. “By interacting with other people, we’re actually working a lot of different cognitive muscles or thinking muscles within the brain,” said Dr. Kevin Duff, PhD, Professor, Clinical Neuropsychologist, University of Utah Health.

Could an approved depression treatment help curb meth cravings?

Meth is a huge issue in Utah, but there are currently few treatment methods and no approved medications for addictions to stimulants like meth. But researchers hope a treatment already approved to use for depression can help."There's one thing we know for sure: that substance use disorders are brain disorders," said Dr. Brian Mickey, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah's Huntsman Mental Health Institute.

The Politics and Economics of Covid Relief and Economic Stimulus Policy

This week’s panel of experts discusses the pandemic, how it changed our economic systems and how the policy response will shape our recovery. The panelists include Juliette Tennert, chief economist for the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute; Rodi von Arnim, associate professor of economics at the University of Utah; and Phillip Singer, assistant professor of political science at the University of Utah. Moderating today’s forum is Tammy Reque (Rack-ee), economics ambassador at the University of Utah.

Indigenous co-management essential for Bears Ears region

“Bears Ears is not just about boundaries, it’s about management,” said the study’s lead author Bruce Pavlik, director of conservation at Red Butte Garden. “And it’s not just about artifacts. It’s also about the archaeo-ecosystems that are there. That’s what’s sacred to Native people.

Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy Is Not Bad For Young Hearts, New Study Reports

“Gender-affirming hormone therapy appears to have greater benefits than risks for transgender adolescents and young adults,” the work’s principal investigator Dr Nicole L. Mihalopoulos, chief of the division of adolescent medicine at the University of Utah, said in a statement. “For some people, these findings influence their decision to not to start gender-affirming hormones during adolescence. However, without gender-affirming hormone therapy, transgender individuals may experience worse gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety and possibly increased suicidal ideations.”

Overshadowed by opioids: Experts say meth is the next epidemic to address

"It's a big issue with not a lot of solutions," said Dr. Elizabeth Howell, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah.

Giving COVID survivors just one dose of the vaccine could help end the pandemic faster

“I think this evidence is strong, and in theory transitioning to a single dose for people with prior confirmed infection makes sense,” says University of Utah virologist Stephen Goldstein, who specializes in coronaviruses. In an email interview, Goldstein says several studies “strongly indicate that people with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection generate an extremely strong response to the first dose of mRNA vaccine with little apparent further enhancement from the second dose.”

Lawmakers explore expanding resources for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease

“Creating a dementia-aware society where cognitive screening is normalized will help to reduce the stigma,” said Dr. Mark Supiano with the University of Utah School of Medicine. “There’s a special need to support hands-on caregivers and the direct care workforce in both home and long care settings to equip them to care for loved ones with dementia.”

Indigenous co-management essential for protecting, restoring Bears Ears region

“Bears Ears is not just about boundaries, it’s about management,” said the study’s lead author Bruce Pavlik, director of conservation at Red Butte Garden. “And it’s not just about artifacts. It’s also about the archaeo-ecosystems that are there. That’s what’s sacred to Native people.”

Successful Start of Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument Follows Record-Setting Trial Run

“Dark energy is one of the key science drivers for DESI,” said project co-spokesperson Kyle Dawson, a professor of physics and astronomy at University of Utah. “The goal is not so much to find out how much there is – we know that about 70% of the energy in the universe today is dark energy – but to study its properties.”

Genome mining leads to a new type of peptide prenylation

This work is a joint research effort with Prof Eric Schmidt from the University of Utah and Dr. Muriel Gugger from the Institut Pasteur. Proteins from a subfamily of prenyltransferases were mapped into a sequence similarity network.

Did Scientists Find Mushrooms on Mars?

For example, researchers at the University of Utah predicted the blueberries would be found on Mars because that same process exists on Earth. “We came up with the ‘recipe’ for blueberries,” said Marjorie Chan, chair and professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, at the time. “Before Opportunity landed, we thought there might be hematite concretions on Mars. That was based on our study of hematite-rich regions of southern Utah, where hematite balls are found in national parks and have long been a geological oddity that shows up in many rock shops.”

Rare quasicrystal found in trinitite formed during 1945 Trinity Test

"The dominance of silicon in its structure is quite distinct,” Valeria Molinero, a theoretical chemist at the University of Utah who is not a co-author on the paper, told Nature. “However, after many quasicrystals have been synthesized in the lab, what I find truly intriguing is that they are so scarce in nature.” Steinhardt proffered a possible explanation, suggesting that the unusual combination of elements and arrangements could account for their rarity.

Creating a 3D Map of the Universe

“Dark energy is one of the key science drivers for DESI,” said project co-spokesperson Kyle Dawson, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Utah. “The goal is not so much to find out how much there is — we know that about 70% of the energy in the universe today is dark energy — but to study its properties.”

The battle for the future of “gig” work

Workers would be granted the right to organize and bargain with the companies — something that, legally, independent contractors cannot do. But Dubal and labor economist Marshall Steinbaum of the University of Utah worry that the unions have latched onto sectoral bargaining as a quick fix in a moment where the labor movement is weak, hoping that a deal can bring numbers and ward off total war.

The Legacy of Gordon Chan

“You look at all these things he did, wow he had all the adventures,” said Chan’s daughter Marjorie, a distinguished professor of geology at the University of Utah. “He was the Jacques Cousteau of the Bay Area. He was a leader, he was people’s friend. He had adventures, but he was an activist. Anything he did he tried to see if he could make it better, and engage other people to enjoy the same kinds of things he was revelling in.”