Skip to content
Main Menu
Utah Attorney General
Search
Attorney General
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Office of the Attorney General
Alerts
Close
Secondary Navigation

AG Reyes Urges Federal Government Action to Increase Access and Affordability for Remdesivir

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 6, 2020

Attorney General Reyes Joins Bipartisan Coalition Urging Federal Government Action to Increase Access and Affordability for Remdesivir

Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug showing promising results for those hospitalized due to COVID-19

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan multistate coalition in sending a letter request to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging them to use their legal authority under the Bayh-Dole Act to increase the availability of Remdesivir. Remdesivir, a drug manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Gilead), has shown promising results in reducing mortality and hospitalization from COVID-19.

“Even though Remdesivir is not a miracle cure for COVID-19, it does show promise in reducing the severity of symptoms and shortening hospital stays,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes.  “Given that glimmer of hope, I feel the drug should be accessible to as many people as possible, under the care of their doctor.  Until a vaccine is available, this appears to be one of our best courses of action.”

Remdesivir is an FDA fast-tracked antiviral drug that was produced with the benefit of millions of dollars of federal funding and the time and expertise of CDC and military scientists. Despite the substantial federal funding provided to its manufacturer, Gilead has been unable to assure a supply of Remdesivir sufficient to alleviate the health and safety needs of the country amid the pandemic. 

As of August 3, 2020, more than 4.64 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 AND 154,000 have died. Yet, by the end of this year, Gilead is expected to produce only two million treatments, or enough Remdesivir to cover about half of the current confirmed COVID-19 patients in the U.S. Before this crisis is over and a vaccine made available, many more Americans may become sick, and their recovery may hinge on the availability and affordability of Remdesivir.

In the letter, the bipartisan coalition urges the federal government to exercise its rights under the Bayh-Dole Act, which allows the NIH and FDA to ensure Americans can afford and have reasonable access to a sufficient supply of Remdesivir during this pandemic. Despite a manufacturing cost of between $1 and $5, Gilead has set the price of the drug at an outrageous and unconscionable $3,200 per treatment course. Under the Bayh-Dole Act, the NIH and FDA has the authority to license Remdesivir to third party manufacturers to scale up production and distribution and ensure the drug is made available to all those in need at a reasonable price. If these agencies are unwilling to exercise this authority, the states request that the agencies assign this authority for the states to use. The bipartisan coalition stands ready to ensure that drug manufacturers are licensed to meet market demand during this public health crisis.

Attorney General Reyes joined the attorneys general of California, Louisiana and 33 other states in sending the letter.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

###

Utah Attorney General’s Office Delivers PPE to Over 100 Agencies in Utah

May 21, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has partnered with a number of local businesses to collect and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to rescue and law enforcement agencies who were running out.

Together, PPE was secured and distributed statewide when PPE was not readily available to first responders. There was a huge need based on the scarcity of PPE and the desire to help keep law enforcement agencies and other first responders safe.

So far, PPE has been delivered to over 100 law enforcement agencies and Children’s Justice Centers statewide. This has included:

  • 14,300 N95 masks
  • 500 KN90 masks
  • 1,200 bottles of hand sanitizer
  • 4,100 gloves

Over 200 hours and nearly 10,000 miles have been driven by Attorney General’s Office agents delivering PPE statewide.

COVID-19 Liability Protections: AG Reyes, 20 State Attorneys General Ask Congress to Help Stop Frivolous Lawsuits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2020

COVID-19 Liability Protections: Attorney General Reyes and 20 Other State Attorneys General Ask Congress to Help Stop Frivolous Lawsuits

SALT LAKE CITY –Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has joined a 21-state coalition in urging Congress to protect businesses who provide much-needed goods and services from frivolous lawsuits specific to COVID-related litigation. In the wake of this unprecedented crisis, the extension of appropriate post-pandemic liability protections is needed at both the state and federal levels for businesses, manufacturers of personal protective equipment, first responders, healthcare workers, healthcare facilities and members of law enforcement, among others.

The letter also underscores the need to ensure that victims are able to seek legal redress and compensation where appropriate.

In the letter, the attorneys general wrote:

“Civil liability protections should not, however, be extended to businesses engaging in willful misconduct, reckless infliction of harm or intentional infliction of harm We believe criminal penalties, regulatory fines and agency oversight should be able to capture bad actors and civil lawsuits should be available for any citizens hurt by a business or individual acting with disregard for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Attorney General Reyes said, “Right now, as our economies reopen, we need a stable, predictable legal environment more than ever.  Our economy will only recover if customers and employees have the confidence to return to the marketplace.

“At the same time, we must ensure people don’t try to take advantage of this crisis by stifling the economy with a glut of plaintiffs cases targeting well-intentioned businesses for taking reasonable pandemic measures. 

“My colleagues and I feel this nation needs a common sense framework to ensure our states have a legal and regulatory environment that balances protecting consumers while allowing free enterprise to thrive.

“Certainly, there must be some redress for wrongs suffered. But not every injury has a remedy in the courts. And opportunistic, aggressive plaintiff lawsuits that rely less on facts or the law than on the burden of defending litigation will impede economic recovery and end up hurting long term the very class of plaintiffs they are purporting to help.

“Thus, we call on Congress to ensure businesses have clearly defined expectations for the safe and appropriate continuance of operations while being protected from devastating civil liability litigation concerning baseless COVID-related claims.”

States across the country have recognized the need for timely, targeted and tailored civil liability protections in light of the pandemic. To date, over 20 states have enacted liability protections for first responders and healthcare workers.

The following states’ attorneys general signed onto the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Read a copy of the letter here.

Woman Charged, Arrested for Sexually Abusing Child

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities and worlds have changed. We have adjusted to a new normal as workplaces and schools closed. During this time, the Investigation Division of the Utah Attorney General’s Office continued to work tirelessly on protecting Utahns and our communities. Below is a case Attorney General Investigators were involved in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 13, 2020

An investigation was opened when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children discovered child pornography being distributed between Facebook accounts. After identifying Mary Jean Royce as a suspect, Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force investigators traveled to Beaver, Utah and partnered with the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office deputies engaged in saving a 2-year-old child. 

Royce, the mother of the 2-year-old girl, had filmed herself abusing the toddler in order to maintain a relationship with a man she had never met in real life. The mother was arrested and charged in March 2020 with two counts of Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child and 10 counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor. The girl was taken into custody by the Utah Department of Child and Family Services.  Shortly thereafter, the man with whom the videos were shared, was contacted by the New York ICAC Task Force in coordination with Utah Attorney General’s Office’s investigation. 

The Utah Attorney General’s Office ICAC Task Force reviews and investigates thousands of these cases in Utah every year.  This is an example of a success story from the dozens received and investigated by the Attorney General’s Office.

Media coverage:

KSL: Woman filmed herself sexually abusing child, agents say

Cedar City News: In separate, unrelated cases, police arrest 2 Beaver residents on child porn charges

West Jordan Man Charged and Arrested in Child Porn Investigation During COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our communities and worlds have changed. We have adjusted to a new normal as workplaces and schools closed. During this time, the Investigation Division of the Utah Attorney General’s Office continued to work tirelessly on protecting Utahns and our communities. Below is a case Attorney General Investigators were involved in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 12, 2020

In March 2020, two weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, special agents with the Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force worked with their affiliates in West Jordan, Utah to investigate and remove a threat to a 13-year-old girl. The adult boyfriend of a relative also living in the same house was covertly sexually exploiting the girl while she slept.  

ICAC investigators received a tip that child pornography had been uploaded to Twitter. Investigators were then able to trace the Twitter account to a home in West Jordan. Upon investigation, the keen eyes of ICAC investigators observed distinctive markings on the hands of the person taking the pictures and matched them to the boyfriend, Gorge Angel Solorsano, who was then arrested and charged in the 3rd District Court with Aggravated Sexual Abuse of a Child, a first degree felony; 10 counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, a second-degree felony; and Voyeurism, a class A misdemeanor. Further investigation revealed over 270 files of child pornography on the social media account belonging to Solorsano. The process of helping the victim continues.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office ICAC Task Force reviews and investigates thousands of these cases in Utah every year.  This is an example of a success story from the dozens received and investigated by the Attorney General’s Office.

Media coverage:

KSL: West Jordan man charged in child porn investigation

Deseret News: West Jordan man charged in child porn investigation

Resources and Support During COVID-19 for Mental Health Awareness Month

May 6, 2020

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and in a year dominated by a pandemic, it is crucial to be kind to ourselves and vigilant and aware of our personal mental well-being. We should also pay attention to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors.  We are all in this together. 

COVID-19 has altered our lives, our routines, and created a new normal in our lives. It is crucial that we all take time to acknowledge that fact in order to maintain balance in our lives.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about many changes and the uncertainty has been stressful for many people. Anxiety and unease have been prevalent and with the quick pace of newly implemented protocols and changing environments, uncertainty has followed. As social distancing measures were put in place, many suffered from loneliness and were inundated with an information overload from social media, news, and internet sites.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all suffering from various levels of anxiety, sadness, fear, and loneliness. For those who already struggled with mental health issues, those feelings are potentially more acute and the world may have felt especially difficult and heavy.

Please know that this is normal, and you are not alone. During this pandemic, we want to make sure that you are not just looking out for your physical health, but your mental health as well. Know that there are ways that you can help manage your stress and be attentive to your mental health. We can all weather this storm together.

Below are some self-care tips:

  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Perhaps the most important thing to taking care of you and your mental health is making sure you are getting enough sleep.
  • Stick with your normal routines. Get up when you normally would get ready for the day, even if you are staying at home, and get to bed on time.
  • Take breaks. Step away from your electronic devices throughout the day. Constantly hearing about the pandemic and frequently visiting social media platforms can be upsetting.
  • Stay in touch with others. Just because you are physically social distancing, does not mean you have to mentally or emotionally distance yourself. Stay in touch with friends and family and talk to people you trust about your concerns.
  • Make sure you are getting exercise. Even if it is just going for walks, make sure you are getting up and moving around throughout the day.

Please know that if you need help with emotional support, there are resources available to you.

  • SafeUT – Download the free SafeUT app to message a crisis counselor. Available 24/7.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Available 24/7.
  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741. Available 24/7.
  • Intermountain Health Care, free emotional health relief hotline – 833-442-2211. Available 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week.
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) warm line – 801-587-1055. Available 8am to 11pm, 7 days a week.
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) crisis line – 801-587-3000. Available 24/7.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is proud to partner with organizations dedicated to looking out for the mental health of Utahns including Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, Nami Utah, Jason Foundation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Utah Chapter, SafeUT Commission, Life’s Worth Living Foundation, University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), Veterans Crisis Line.

For more information on mental health and tips to look out for you and others during this time, check out these resources:

Additional Resources on Digital Safety for Parents

April 23, 2020

Earlier this month, the Utah Attorney General’s Office released online safety tips for parents during the COVID-19 crisis to help keep children safe while they access the internet more than normal while attending online classrooms and keeping in touch with friends in a socially distant environment. These tips included keeping an open dialogue with your children about online safety, being aware of the apps and internet sites your children frequent, and understanding the behavioral changes to look out for in your children that may indicate abuse, cyberbullying, or grooming by a predator.

Organizations with a primary focus on online safety, such as Digital Respons-Ability, provide up to date resources and training for you and your children. Digital Respons-Ability recently released additional resources for parents to help refresh on digital citizenship and help you create family plans for digital technology usage. These resources include:

For more information, contact Digital Respons-Ability at contact@respons-ability.net.

Utah Fraud Squad: Watch Out for Stimulus Package Scams

April 15, 2020

Today, the Utah Department of Commerce launched a new website aimed at informing Utahns of the latest COVID-19 scams, such as scams involving the federal stimulus package. View the Utah Fraud Squad website here.

Starting this week, most Utahns will receive money as the result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion stimulus package providing emergency assistance to the American people, businesses and health care providers amid the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The package includes a one-time direct cash payment to individuals and families across the country to help them financially weather this crisis.

Unfortunately, the bill’s passage has opened up a brand-new opportunity for scammers to take advantage of vulnerable people during an emergency situation.

Taxpayers should be advised that the Internal Revenue Service will not ask you to pay anything up front to get this money. There are no fees or charges associated with receiving the payment. No one from the federal government will call, email or text message you and ask for your Social Security number, bank account information or credit card number. Anyone who does this is a scammer.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the checks will be sent out for people who have been working and paying taxes since 2018.  Anyone calling and telling you they can get the check to you sooner is a scammer. We advise you to not answer calls, emails or text messages from phone numbers or email addresses you do not know. Do not click on links from unsolicited emails or text messages. If you do answer a phone call and realize it is not someone you know, just hang up.

The Treasury Department plans to run a public awareness campaign for those who have not filed a tax return for either 2018 or 2019. Information will be posted as it becomes available online on www.irs.gov/coronavirus.

Stay aware of the latest scams by visiting the Utah Department of Commerce Utah Fraud Squad website.

To report scams, call the Utah Division of Consumer protection at 801-530-6601 or 1-800-721-7233, or visit them online at: consumerprotection.utah.gov.

Read the Department of Commerce press release regarding the Utah Fraud Squad website here.

Utah Resources for Mental Health and Substance Abuse During COVID-19

April 15, 2020

We recognize that during the COVID-19 pandemic these are difficult times for many people, especially those struggling with substance abuse or mental health. Below are some resources available for individuals, providers, and communities.

Look After Your Mental Health

The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health provided some helpful tips on ways that you can look after you and your mental health:

  1.   Seek information from legitimate sources and set limits around media exposure
  2.   Take care of yourself (Airplane Rules: Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others)
  3.   Safely reach out to others and support people around you
  4.   Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; read something good and uplifting
  5.   Acknowledge your feelings, bounce them off a friend or loved one
  6.   Take time to talk to children about COVID-19
  7.   Ask for support, including professional support if needed. Asking for help is a sign of strength; none of us can do this alone.

Read more tips from them on how to manage stress here.

Guidance for Prescribers About Providing Telemedicine

SAMHSA and DEA released updated guidance for prescribers about providing telemedicine to new patients for buprenorphine. Click Buprenophone-Telemedicine for more information. If you would like to know overall information on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s guidelines, please click on Use of Telemedicine While Providing Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) here at MAT Guidelines.

SAMHSA Updates and Resources for Opioid Treatment Programs

The COVID-19 guidance includes approaches for providing pharmacotherapy for opioids use disorder patients exposed to infections and COVID-19, disaster planning, potential flexibility for take-home medication, OTP guidance for patients quarantined at home with the coronavirus, and Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ for OTP Guidance during Quarantine.

Learn more about the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) COVID-19 Guidance for Opioid Treatment Programs here and for overall information about Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health, please visit: SAMHSA Home Page.

Safely Dispose of Your Unwanted Medications

The National Take-Back Initiative where you can safely dispose of your unwanted, unused medications was planned for April 25, 2020, but has been postponed until further notice. If you are in need of disposing of unused, unwanted or expired medication, the Utah Opioid Task Force has free Dispose RX packets they can send to you.

Community Resources

Please check in on your loved ones and be aware of signs of poor mental health and emotional well-being. It’s important we have these types of resources readily available during these times. If a loved one needs substance use treatment, please access: https://findtreatment.gov/

Here are some other important phone numbers to have and share with your friends, family, and community: 

  • COVID-19 Hotline 1-800-456-7707
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
  • UNI WarmLine: 801-587-1055
  • Domestic Abuse Hotline:  1-800-799-7233
  • Utah Naloxone 385- 495-9050

If you need Peer Recovery Support and Family Support, USARA is functioning with an online presence at www.myusara.com.

SafeUT Remains Active for Students

The mental well-being of our youth is critical during these times. The SafeUT app is a real-time crisis intervention tool and tip line for students. This resource is fully functioning during current circumstances and can be downloaded here: https://healthcare.utah.edu/uni/safe-ut.

You are not alone during these trying times. We are in this together.

Online Safety Tips During COVID-19 Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 9, 2020

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE OFFERS ONLINE SAFETY TIPS
Parents and Children Should Keep Safety in Mind During COVID-19 Crisis

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office is offering tips to everyone who is concerned about online safety during the COVID-19 crisis. As schools closed and moved to an online setting, children are accessing the internet even more than normal. In addition to online classrooms, children are using the internet on phones, tablets, and gaming platforms to keep in touch with friends as communities adjust to staying indoors. While convenient for connecting with friends and family, these devices are also pathways for predators to reach our children. These predators are aware of the fact that children are spending more time online and unfortunately, may try to exploit that. Below are some items to raise your awareness of internet safety and provide tips on how you can protect your children: 

  • Talk to your children about being safe when using the internet.  Keeping an open dialogue with your children will help them know that they can come to you for help if they have a problem online. Teach them about using the internet safely and help them learn what to look out for when it comes to cyberbullying, predators, and suspicious activity.
  • Educate yourself.  The first step to helping your children practice internet safety is understanding it yourself first. Get to know how online and phone apps and online schooling work. Always keep you and your security software up to date.
  • Be aware of online activity.  Predators can gain access to kids through online chats, through popular apps, and through gaming networks. Keep internet-accessible devices in a high-trafficked area such as the living room. Find out what apps your children use the most and learn how they work. Consider using parental controls on your children’s devices to help filter or block certain content online.
  • Set boundaries.  Talk to your children about what they should not post, such as personal photos, their location, and personal information about them. Consider creating an online safety agreement together so you can both agree on ways that personal devices and technology can be used, and how to use it safely.
  • Always use security and a secure internet connection.  Make sure all online accounts are set to private and always use secure passwords on those accounts. Make sure your security software is up to date and that you are using a secure internet connection.
  • Look out for changes in your children’s behavior.  Below are several examples of behavioral changes that you should look out for in your children. If your child exhibits these behaviors, it could be an indicator of abuse or grooming by a predator.
    • Being secretive about sites they visit or who they are talking to online.
    • Clicking off the page they’re viewing when a parent enters the room.
    • Being online constantly and not being able to get off.
    • Pulling away from friends and family.
    • Using behavior or sexual language that is not appropriate for their age.
    • Possessing new items or gifts.
    • Volatile emotions, such as jumping from highs and lows within a matter of seconds.
  • Be aware of apps that can hide other apps. There are a number of apps that allow you to hide content or apps from parents. One such app conceals another app behind a calculator interface.
  • Know who your children are talking to online or on the phone.  Make sure you know who is on their friend list online and who they talk to on the phone, through messaging apps, texting, and online chat forums. Make sure they know that if they are uncomfortable with someone who is messaging them, they can come to you for help.

“The online risk for kids has multiplied now that they’re at home and on computers for school instruction,” Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “I realize some homes have five or six kids online at the same time. It’s going to take extra vigilance when parents are already stressed out, but it needs to be done. I urge everyone to look at the tips our office is sending out. Don’t hesitate to report suspicious activity. This is all part of staying healthy and safe as a family at this difficult time.”

“While gaming and social media can be safe and fun diversions with proper supervision, parents need to be aware and proactive about their children online,” Attorney General Reyes added. “Young people are often exposed to mature content without even seeking it out. And many serious crimes victimizing children start with predators on the Internet.”

For more information and tips, visit Common Sense Media and Respons-ability.net.

###

Site SettingsSettings