Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: IRS, unemployment and social connection
THUMBS UP: To the IRS for scaling back operations at its Ogden campus to essential services, thus allowing many workers to stay home, at least until April 20. The agency is a big employer here, and the move safeguards workers and helps guard against the spread of coronavirus around the city and county.
THUMBS DOWN: The labor market continues to deteriorate. Utah saw 33,000 people file unemployment claims last week and its unlikely to stop there. Has anyone received their $1,200 yet? This is going to be a struggle for a little while, and strong fiscal policy is needed to prevent things from continuing to deteriorate.
THUMBS DOWN: Ambulances, fire trucks and police cars will continue to face sometimes life-threatening delays at busy railroad crossings, including Forest Street in Brigham City and 12th Street in Ogden. That’s because Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed a bill to set up a funding mechanism for overpass projects, based on removing an exemption on sales taxes on locomotive fuel. Herbert said it’s not “good tax policy,” but he apparently was swayed by railroad lobbyists.
THUMBS UP: To Ogden’s police and fire departments for having no positive cases of COVID-19 among their respective workforces. Ogden Fire Chief Mike Mathieu said departments have been working for the last month on new EMS response protocols, modifying field care practices and taking care of our employees amid the pandemic.
THUMBS UP: Life during a pandemic hasn’t been easy. Nor has it been particularly fun, with many of us cooped up at home 24/7 with only occasional reprieves to run out for essential services and supplies. But that hasn’t stopped many residents from finding ways to break through the isolation and stay in touch during this time of social distancing. In fact, the Weber-Morgan Health Department doesn’t even like that term. It prefers “physical distancing” — and is promoting social connection through a new bingo-themed community campaign. And aside from potentially giving a boost to your mental health, it could help put a gift card to a local restaurant in your pocket.