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KUNR Today: Washoe County Reaches 600 COVID-19 Deaths, Nevada Legislature Kicks Off

An image of the Capitol Building in Carson City, Nev.
Alexa Ard

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.

Washoe County Reported 600th COVID-19 Death Over Weekend
By Michelle Billman

The death toll from COVID-19 in Washoe County reached 600 over the weekend on Saturday when three new deaths were tallied. District Health Officer Kevin Dick called the grim milestone a “stark reminder” of the devastating impact this virus has had on our community.

During the month of January, 111 deaths were reported in Washoe. That’s exactly 100 fewer deaths than what officials saw in December.

Across the state, the average test positivity rate continues to decline and is now at 17.7 percent. At the same time, the average number of daily new cases over the past two weeks is also in decline and currently sits at just over a thousand.

Tax Battles Expected To Dominate Nevada Legislature In 2021
By The Associated Press

The Nevada Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on Monday for a four-month legislative session. Lawmakers are expected to focus primarily on balancing the state's budget amid a pandemic that has devastated the economy and left them with less revenue to divvy up among departments. They will either have to make cuts, raise taxes or hope a sooner-than-expected recovery will yield more tax revenue than projected. Proposals to raise taxes on property and on specific industries like gambling or mining are set to be considered. Democrats enter the session with majorities in both legislative chambers despite losing several seats in November 2020.

Nevada Governor, AG Denounce Counties Defying Virus Rules
By The Associated Press

Nevada's governor and attorney general are denouncing resolutions approved by five rural counties that attempt to defy state restrictions intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 statewide. Gov. Steve Sisolak and Attorney General Aaron Ford said Friday the resolutions passed by Lyon, White Pine, Eureka and Elko Counties have no force of law and cannot override the governor's emergency directives. They said the directives have been issued under state law and upheld in courts several times. The two Democrats say everyone is tired of the pandemic. But every day Nevadans die due to COVID-19 in rural counties as well as urban areas.

WCSD Changing Distance Learning Structure
By Jayden Perez

Washoe County School District will be changing its distance learning structure, starting in the fall, so that North Star Online School will be the only distance learning school.

Schoolboard President Angie Taylor said in a press call that the current K-12 distance learning model is unsustainable. Over the course of the past semester, more than 17,800 students participated in distance learning and North Star took in some of those students.

“This year enrollment jumped dramatically. Usually, you see around 300 students, I think. We landed around 1,700 or so students. That’s a significant, a huge, huge, huge increase in enrollment, so the trustees unanimously approved for Northstar to be our only distance learning school for K-12.”

If students want to enroll in distance learning they will have to enroll at North Star rather than at their zoned school. For the fall, the district expects around 2,000 students to participate in the model, as they expect social-distancing regulations to be relaxed.

As California Virus Cases Fall, More People Than Ever Dying
By The Associated Press

California has reported 40,000 coronavirus deaths as the state's steepest surge of cases begins to taper. Data reported by Johns Hopkins University shows the state passed the milestone Saturday. The grim number comes amid a sharp recent decline in cases and hospitalizations but while deaths surge at a record pace. It took six months for California to record its first 10,000 deaths, then four months to double to 20,000. In just five more weeks the state reached 30,000. It then took only 20 days to get to 40,000. Now only New York has more deaths but at this pace California will eclipse that too.

Law Enforcement Probe Threats Against Newsom, His Businesses
By The Associated Press

Law enforcement officials are investigating escalating threats of death and violence against California Gov. Gavin Newsom, his family and the wineries, shops and other businesses he founded. The Sacramento Bee reports it heard a voicemail and reviewed emails containing graphic abusive language about Newsom, violent sexual threats against his wife and a reference to his children. The newspaper said one communication included a threat to burn down one of the wineries owned by the PlumpJack Group, the hospitality company Newsom founded in the 1990s, with patrons inside. The Bee says Newsom is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

3 Sierra Sugar Pines Added To List Of 6 Biggest In World
By The Associated Press

A big tree hunter who has been charting some of the largest trees in the West for more than a decade has added three in the Sierra Nevada to the list of tallest sugar pines known to exist in the world. Michael W. Taylor recently documented two in the Tahoe National Forest west of Lake Tahoe nearly as tall as the length of a football field. At 267 feet, 6 inches, and 267 feet, 1.8 inches, they are the second and third tallest sugar pines ever recorded. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reported that the third, found in the Stanislaus National Forest, checks in at sixth on the all-time list at 253 feet, 2 inches.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
Jayden Perez is a former web producer and student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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