SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Tribune has a yearly tradition of selecting "Utahns of the Year" every year since 1997, when Karl Malone received the honor.
On Friday, the newspaper named this year's recipient: Health care workers.
The selection was likely not a surprise to anyone as the coronavirus pandemic has made 2020 a year very few will forget — more than 1,200 Utahns have died from the virus so far, and more than 260,000 have tested positive.
"Our health care troops have not only had to do battle against a microscopic foe. They have also been surrounded by too many people who offer too little help, or actively try to make their jobs more difficult and dangerous," the Tribune's editorial board wrote. "Efforts to politicize and monetize the crisis, even to claim that the whole thing is a hoax, have made everything worse."
The Tribune also opened up an online poll that allowed everyone to vote for who they thought deserved the honor.
The "vanguard of the battle against the pandemic," as the Tribune called them, came in fourth place in that poll.
In third place was Margarita Satini, a beloved activist in Utah’s Pacific Islander community whose efforts included helping those in that community get access to COVID-19 testing and resources. She died from the virus in October.
The runner-up in the people's-choice was Dr. Angela Dunn, the state epidemiologist who has largely led the effort to help Utahns understand and prevent the spread of the virus.
Taking first place in the "unscientific reader poll" was quite a different choice, however: Eric Moutsos, who led protests against coronavirus-related restrictions from the state and individual counties. He also organized pro-police demonstrations in response to recent protests for racial equality and against police brutality.
The Tribune wrote that Moutsos posted about the poll on Facebook as votes for him began to come in, which drew hundreds of comments from his supporters.
So far, more than 15,000 health care workers have tested positive for the virus. More than 360 of those have been hospitalized, and at least 13 have died,
So far, more than 15,000 Utah health care workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and more than 360 of those have been hospitalized at one time or another. At least 13 have died, according to data from the Utah Department of Health.
"Naming the front-line health care workers as The Tribune’s 2020 Utahns of the Year is, we hope, an honor that will, in some small way, help those who risk their lives for their community to feel it was all worth it," the Tribune wrote.
FOX 13 has a content-sharing partnership with The Salt Lake Tribune.