Outside the Outbreak: Bad planning caused cold catastrophe, February marked Utah Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

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Weather experts: Lack of planning caused cold catastrophe

Tina Hall, left to right, Susana Sosa, Jim Sefcik and Chris Sosa wait in line to fill up their containers with water at Meanwhile Brewing Company in Austin, Texas, on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, during a citywide boil water notice caused by the winter storm. The brewery gave away all 4,000 gallons of their water to people in need on Thursday and Friday. (Jay Janner /Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Last week’s killer freeze in the U.S. was no surprise. Government and private meteorologists saw it coming, some nearly three weeks in advance. They started sounding warnings two weeks ahead of time. They talked to officials. They issued blunt warnings through social media.

And yet catastrophe happened. As of Feb. 19, at least 20 people have died and 4 million homes at some point lost power, heat or water.

The event shows how unprepared the nation and its infrastructure are for extreme weather events that will become bigger problems with climate change, meteorologists and disaster experts said.

Postpartum depression survivors speak out on common plight

Evi Figgat, right, poses with daughter Elinor and son Oliver at their Eagle Mountain, Utah, home on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. (Laura Seitz/The Deseret News via AP)

After both of her pregnancies, Evi Figgat faced postpartum depression, anxiety and psychosis. But an increased availability of resources in Utah, as well as more awareness about maternal mental health after her second delivery, made all the difference, she said, the Deseret News reported.

According to data from the Utah Department of Health, 43% of Utah women with a recent live birth experienced depression or anxiety, said Gabriella Archuleta, public policy analyst with YWCA Utah.

Utah survivors of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, advocates and lawmakers gathered for a virtual conference on Wednesday to announce that Gov. Spencer Cox has declared February 2021 Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month and to celebrate the state’s advances in maternal mental health resources and recognition.

Utah legislative committee approves harsh rioting penalties

FILE – In this May 30, 2020, file photo, an armed protester walks past a flipped over police vehicle in Salt Lake City. A Utah legislative committee has passed a bill that would increase penalties and eliminate bail for rioting in response to last year’s protests against police brutality and racial injustice. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

A Utah legislative committee has passed a bill that would increase penalties and eliminate bail for rioting in response to last year’s protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Republican state Sen. David Hinkins presented the bill to the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee with members of the neighborhood watch group United Citizens Alarm, KUER-FM reported Feb. 18.

The legislation, sponsored by Hinkins, would also give immunity to someone driving a car who hits or kills a protester if the driver fears for their life. That language was removed from a different bill after public complaints.

Historic Black colleges to get $650,000 to preserve campuses

A sign is displayed at Spelman College on Sept. 26, 2018, Atlanta. Several historically Black colleges and universities, including Spelman College, will receive more than $650,000 in grants to preserve their campuses as part of a new initiative announced Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Several historically Black colleges and universities will receive more than $650,000 in grants to preserve their campuses as part of a new initiative announced Tuesday.

The funding for the HBCUs comes as leaders of the colleges and universities continue to advocate for additional funding nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, which has threatened the survival of many already chronically underfunded schools. Details about the initiative were shared with The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.

HBCUs have long been underfunded as a result of decades of structural racism and lack of equitable public funding, said Brent Leggs, executive director of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, which is supplying the grants.

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