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KUNR Today: Nevada Reaches 270,000 COVID-19 Cases, Record Number Of Bald Eagles Spotted In Tahoe

A close-up image of a bald eagle in flight.
Jeff Bleam

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Monday, Jan. 25, 2021.

Nevada Reaches 4,000 COVID-19 Deaths Over The Weekend
By Stephanie Serrano

Health officials in Nevada reported 1,194 new COVID-19 cases and 15 more deaths Sunday. The latest figures increased the state's pandemic totals to 270,907 cases. Since the start of the pandemic, 4,026 Nevadans have died. The number of infections statewide is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, while studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The virus has hammered Nevada’s tourist-dependent economy.

Washoe County health officials reported 122 additional COVID-19 cases and 345 recoveries Sunday. There are currently more than 1,300 active cases in the area and there have been more than 40,000 cases total. The Washoe County Health District has now administered more than 15,000 vaccines, including some second doses.

Most Adults Still Don't Wear Masks Regularly
By Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau

As President Joe Biden calls for a 100-day mask challenge, a new report finds the majority of U.S. adults still don’t wear face masks consistently.

The new analysis found about 9 in 10 U.S. adults believe masks do protect them from COVID-19, but it also found half of them aren’t wearing one consistently when they socialize with people outside their household.

“People are making their own decision about their risk tolerance, which I don’t really know that we can do too much about," said Sean McCrea, a psychology professor at the University of Wyoming.

McCrea compares wearing a mask voluntarily to practicing safe sex or choosing not to drink alcohol. So what will it take to change this behavior? Jackie Chen is a social psychology professor at the University of Utah. She said the best way is to set the example.

“Always wear a mask yourself,” she said. “Because you’re contributing then to a norm where there are more and more people wearing a mask around. That’s going to lead to people who aren’t wearing a mask feeling like the odd ones out.”

Hodgepodge Systems, Confusion Mar California Vaccine Rollout
By The Associated Press

More than five weeks into its vaccination program, California still doesn’t have nearly the supply to meet demand and there's growing angst among residents. State officials are frustrated the federal government hasn't provided more vaccine while local officials are irritated that California Gov. Gavin Newsom suddenly widened the number of people eligible to get a scarce shot. Adding to the confusion is a hodgepodge of systems by the state's 58 counties. Some counties have opened up mass vaccination sites for people 65 and older while others are sticking to seniors 75 and up.

Mine OK'd In Trump's Last Days May Boost Biden Energy Plan
By The Associated Press

The Trump administration granted final approval for a proposed Nevada lithium mine in its last days, adding it to a list of energy and mining projects fast-tracked before President Joe Biden took office. The Democrat has already revoked permits for projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, but like the outgoing administration, he supports lithium mining. The mineral is a key component in rechargeable batteries, and boosting domestic production could lower the price tag on his climate plan, which includes rebates for electric vehicles. But while technologists see lithium as a replacement for carbon-based fuels, conservationists worry about mining's impact on the surrounding environment.

California May Prioritize Age Above All For COVID-19 Vaccine
By The Associated Press

Advocates for farmworkers, teachers, grocery store clerks and other essential workers are worried they will have to wait until this summer to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as California considers giving priority to older residents. State officials said the move makes sense given older people have a much higher rate of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. But with California struggling to get and give the vaccine, the Sacramento Bee reports it could take until June to vaccinate all Californians 65 and older. That could mean essential workers will probably not be vaccinated until this summer.

Bald Eagles Show Up In Record Numbers
By Stephanie Serrano

A record-breaking number of bald eagles was spotted in a recent annual count at Lake Tahoe.

According to the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science, 42 bald eagles were spotted in its annual survey. That's nearly double the previous record of 27 bald eagles in 2017. Roughly 200 volunteers participated in the event, which is twice the amount from last year and contributed to the high count this year.

The bald eagles were seen in the middle parts of both the east and west shores, which spotters say are not common areas to find them.

Stephanie Serrano (she/her/ella) is an award-winning multimedia bilingual journalist based in Reno, Nevada. Her reporting is powered by character-driven stories and is rooted in sound-rich audio. Her storytelling works to share the experiences of unserved communities in regards to education, race, affordable housing and sports.
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