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KUNR Today: Wild Horse Reservoir in Elko Co. impacted by fish die-off, COVID cases low in Washoe Co.

A shoreline with hundreds of dead fish washed up to the sand
Courtesy of NDOW
Thousands of dead fish have washed ashore at Wild Horse Reservoir in Elko County, Nev., after the ice covering the lake quickly melted away.

Read or listen to the news headlines for Thursday, April 14, 2022.

Wild Horse Reservoir impacted by fish die-off
By Nick Stewart

Biologists from the Nevada Department of Wildlife have confirmed that a fish die-off occurred late last week in Wild Horse Reservoir.

On Friday, NDOW received reports of many dead fish. After surveying the reservoir in Elko County, officials say mainly yellow perch were impacted.

Biologists believe this is due to oxygen depletion created by rapid loss of ice, and high winds, leading to a turnover event. Officials add that though the ice was completely gone – oxygen levels could have been worsening while the reservoir was ice-covered. This is due in part to overpopulation of yellow perch in the low water levels.

Fisheries biologist CJ Ellingwood says the die-off is not expected to impact the health of the overall fishery, but actually could help with overpopulation during drought conditions.

NDOW will continue to monitor the reservoir.

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations very low in Washoe County
By Lucia Starbuck

Despite the emergence of the omicron subvariant BA.2, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Washoe County remain quite low.

There have been an average of 16 COVID-19 cases per day over the last week in Washoe County. Cases in surrounding counties are even lower. Health District Officer Kevin Dick said the numbers are refreshing to see, but he’s still cautious.

“I do anticipate with the BA.2 variant becoming prevalent, the higher transmissibility that [it] has, and people getting back to normal, that we could see some increases in cases occurring. But it’s also very encouraging to see that we’re continuing at these low levels, while the mask mandate has been removed now for quite a while,” Dick said.

Nevada’s governor ended the mask mandate about two months ago.

According to the state’s dashboard, there are currently 12 people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in Washoe County. The Nevada Hospital Association said that hospital operations are starting to return to normal, but staffing continues to be a significant concern, making it difficult to transfer patients to lower levels of care.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, COVID-19 testing, or view the state COVID-19 dashboard.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

In drought-stricken West, officials weigh emergency actions
By The Associated Press

Federal officials say it may be necessary to reduce water deliveries to Colorado River users to prevent the shutdown of a huge dam on the Arizona-Utah border. Glen Canyon Dam supplies hydropower to some 5 million customers across the U.S. West. Officials had hoped snowmelt would buoy Lake Powell to ensure continued operation of the dam. But snow already is melting, and hotter-than-normal temperatures and prolonged drought are further shrinking the lake.

The Interior Department has proposed holding back water in the lake to maintain power production. The agency is asking for feedback from the seven states that rely on the river by April 22.

Scientists say snowpack seasons are shortening
By Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

If it doesn’t snow again in Denver soon, this will be the shortest snow season on record for the area. Climatologists say snowpack seasons — when snow accumulates on the top of mountains — have been shortening, too.

A shortened snowpack season means it starts accumulating later and melting earlier.

Becky Bolinger with the Colorado Climate Center says the state did the best in the region to build snowpack, but it was just below average.

“But a lot of other regions are well below average and they’ve peaked a little bit early probably. We’re not going to get a normal snowpack season for most of the West,” she said.

She said the Northern Rockies have about 70 percent of their average snowpack while some areas in New Mexico merely accumulated half of the norm.

Bolinger says whether it's snow or snowpack season that’s decreasing, they foretell wildfires and that affects air quality.

California plan aims to triple sale of electric cars by 2026
By The Associated Press

California wants electric vehicle sales to triple in the next four years to 35% of all new car purchases. That's part of proposed rules released Tuesday by the California Air Resources Board that aim to reduce planet-warming emissions. It puts the state on a roadmap to achieve Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's ambitious goal of phasing out the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035.

Californians could still drive and resell gas-powered cars. The air board says passenger vehicles count for about a quarter of the state's greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other single source. The plan faces a state and federal review process.

CDC data shows Nevada ranks first in the nation for primary and secondary syphilis
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada health officials are urging the public to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in light of new data from the CDC.

The state ranks number one in the country for primary and secondary syphilis cases. If the sexually transmitted infection is not treated, it can lead to more serious health problems including harm to internal organs. Nevada also has high rates of congenital syphilis, which is when a mother with the infection passes it to her baby during pregnancy.

Nationally, the data shows STD cases have not improved during COVID-19. And the pandemic has hindered surveillance and prevention efforts. If detected early, syphilis is easy to cure.

The Washoe County Health District has a sexual health clinic that offers free to low cost services. Learn more here.

This newscast was produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

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