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Nevada Test Positivity Rate Remains High, Investigators Determine Cause of Pinehaven Fire

A close-up image showing a COVID-19 vaccine being loaded into a syringe.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
A pharmacist with Renown Health prepares a syringe with a second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to administer to a health care worker at Renown's South Meadows drive-through vaccine site in Reno, Nev, on Friday, Jan. 8.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

One In Five People Getting Tested For COVID-19 In Nevada Are Testing Positive  
By Lucia Starbuck

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on hospitals and communities, Nevada continues to see high test positivity rates of the virus, which has been hovering at around 20% since early December.

On average, there have been over 1,600 new daily cases of the coronavirus in Nevada over the last two weeks, along with 18 deaths daily during the same period.

The Washoe County Health District reported one additional COVID-19-related death Tuesday, bringing the total to 568 since March. The county also reported 235 additional cases.

In the Quad-Counties, an additional death from COVID-19 was reported Tuesday, bringing the total number of people who died to 168. In Elko County, recoveries outnumbered new cases, with 94 recoveries and 13 new cases.

Pinehaven Fire Caused By Power Lines, Strong Winds
By Olivia Ali

After almost two months, the Reno Fire Department has concluded its investigation into the cause of the Pinehaven Fire. Fire Marshall Tray Palmer spoke at a press conference Tuesday.

"It is our professional opinion that this fire started in the drainage, from an arc event in the overhead power lines caused by extraordinary wind conditions," Palmer said. "The high voltage arc event would be sufficient to ignite the lightweight fuels below."

Palmer said there were no signs of negligence by NV Energy, which maintains the lines. Five homes were destroyed and over 20 homes were damaged in the blaze in Northwest Reno near Caughlin Ranch.

Mobile Vaccine Clinics Coming?
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

The incoming Biden Administration has laid out some ambitious plans to turn the tide on the pandemic. But what does it mean for the Mountain West?

In a speech last week, President-Elect Joe Biden said when it comes to vaccine distribution, his administration will, “manage the hell out of this operation.”

Part of that plan includes setting up mobile vaccination units in rural areas. Christine Porter is a public health expert at the University of Wyoming. She says that could make it a lot easier for folks to get vaccinated in the Mountain West.

"What these mobile clinics do is make it available and there will be some people who want them. And that will protect them, and should help reduce transmission rates in general in that community, even though some people might choose not to get vaccinated at that opportunity," Porter said.

Rural residents are among the most hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but Porter says the community outreach portion of Biden’s plan could help address that as well.

Thousands Sign Up For Washoe County’s Vaccine Waitlist 
By Olivia Ali

As Washoe County continues their vaccination efforts, the Regional COVID-19 response introduced a vaccine waiting list last week for seniors to join.

As of Tuesday, the waiting list has had more than 27,000 submissions. Over 1,800 people have already been selected from the list.

The Washoe County Health District has administered over 10,000 vaccines and received an additional 6,000 doses on Tuesday. Outside organizations like local hospitals, REMSA, and the city of Reno and Sparks have administered vaccines as well.

Washoe County Administers Moderna Vaccine Linked To Allergic Reactions

The Washoe County Health District received and administered over 700 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the same lot that has been linked to six allergic reactions in California. According to The Nevada Independent, California health officials have recommended that vaccines from that lot no longer be used.

The vaccines were administered in Washoe County Monday. No allergic reactions have been reported locally.

A spokesperson for the health district says the CDC urged them to continue using the vaccine while the FDA investigates.

COVID-19 Vaccines Become Available At Several Pharmacies
By Olivia Ali

Several pharmacies across Nevada will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines by appointment. Participating pharmacies include select Walgreens, Smith’s, Raley’s, and Safeway locations.

To make an appointment for a vaccine, you must be a part of one of the qualifying groups determined by the state and the federal government. Nevada eligibility currently includes people 70 and older, various healthcare workers and law enforcement officers.

People in the qualifying groups can make appointments online or by phone. 

Smith’s is administering vaccines at 17 locations across Clark, Douglas, Elko, Lyon, Nye and Washoe counties, along with Carson City. Appointments can be made online at Smith’s website.

Walgreens is distributing vaccines from various locations in Churchill, Clark, Douglas, Lyon, Nye and Washoe counties, along with Carson City. Appointments can be made online on the Walgreens website.

Nye and Esmeralda County residents can make appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine at Raley’s in Tonopah by calling (775) 482-6711. 

Quad-County residents can make appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine at Raley’s in Yerington by calling (775) 463-1933.

Select Safeway and Albertsons locations are administering vaccines, but are currently prioritizing people over the age of 70. Appointments can be made online or by calling (775) 945-3045.

Renown and Saint Mary’s are also distributing vaccines to those that are eligible. Appointments can be made online.

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