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KUNR Today: COVID-19 Continues Decline In Nevada, Proposal Would Allow Companies To Form Governments

David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
The entrance to the COVID-19 testing area inside the legislative parking garage on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Friday, Feb. 5, 2021.

Nevada Continues To See Sustained COVID-19 Declines
By Paul Boger

Nevada reported fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the fifth straight day, but health officials also reported 51 deaths Thursday.

The two-week rolling average of new daily cases is about 850. That number has been cut roughly in half from early January. The state's test positivity rate has also dropped to 16.5 percent.

However, Nevada's two-week rolling average of COVID-19 deaths has seen a much slower decline. Health officials say they expect that number to come down as more people get vaccinated.

Statewide, more than 281,000 people have contracted the virus and 4,424 people have died.

In Washoe County, the health district reported four COVID-19-related deaths and 149 new cases of the disease Thursday. Health officials also reported more than 600 recoveries, bringing the number of active cases to roughly 10,000. Since last March, 610 people in Washoe County have died as a result of COVID-19.

Carson City Health and Human Services reported one death and 20 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. Nearly 11,000 cases have been reported in the region surrounding Carson City, with more than 3,200 cases still active. There have been 192 deaths in the area.

Elko County health officials reported two additional deaths Thursday, to go along with 11 new cases.

Washoe County To Vaccinate All Public School Teachers By End of Next Week
By Noah Glick

As the Biden administration pushes to re-open schools and get students back in classrooms, local officials are confident they'll have teachers vaccinated by the end of next week.

According to Washoe County COVID-19 Operations Chief James English, the county expects to administer more than 2,600 doses of the vaccine to Washoe County School District staff over the weekend, with one more event scheduled next Saturday.

"At that point, we expect the school district to have offered the vaccine to all their current employees that are available for vaccinations," English said.

As of Thursday, English said the county health district has administered more than 16,000 first doses of the vaccine, and nearly 7,800 second doses.

People who receive their second dose may experience common side effects such as irritation or swelling at the injection site, fever, chills, or nausea.

Sisolak’s Innovation Zones Would Allow Tech Companies To Form Governments
By Paul Boger

Lawmakers in Nevada may soon consider a bill that would give large companies the ability to establish their own governments.

The proposal comes from Gov. Steve Sisolak who touted the creation of “Innovation Zones” as the future of economic development in Nevada during his State of the State Address last month.

Under the proposal, the zones would give tech companies like Blockchains, LLC the ability to essentially form a new county as long as the company has at least 50,000 acres of land and residents living on the property.

Companies would also be required to have at least $250 million with plans to invest another billion into the zone over ten years.

Republican Sen. Ben Kieckhefer of Reno has been an outspoken supporter of Blockchains. But he says, the proposal will face challenges in the legislature.

The exact language of the proposal is still being drafted and has not yet been introduced in the legislature.

Nevada's Amodei Votes Against Kicking Greene Off Committees
By The Associated Press

Republican Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada voted against an effort by the House Democratic majority Thursday to remove a freshman Georgia Republican congresswoman from her committee assignments over her racist remarks, endorsement of violence against officials and embracement of conspiracy theories about the Las Vegas mass shooting and other events. Amodei said in a statement Thursday that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has made “many unacceptable statements” before being elected but that she’s ultimately responsible to the voters who elected her. Amodei says Democrats are being hypocritical and says they failed to hold their own members to account for their past comments.

Elko County Creates Fund To Pay COVID-19 Fines For Businesses
By Paul Boger

The Elko County Commission has approved a fund that uses private donations to help pay fines for businesses found in violation of Nevada's COVID-19 restrictions.

First reported by the Elko Daily Free Press, commissioners created the fund after passing a resolution last month that criticized the state's COVID response.

The resolution also seeks to create a legal challenge to Gov. Steve Sisolak's response to the pandemic.

According to the commission, the fund will run entirely off private donations, and will not include any taxpayer money.

Nevada OSHA has registered 150 COVID-19 complaints, according to the agency’s dashboard.

Salmonella Outbreak Killing Western Finches
By Paul Boger

Conservancy groups are asking the public to be on the lookout for sick or dead birds around the Tahoe area.

Finches across western states have been dying from an outbreak of salmonella in recent weeks, including the Carson Valley and Truckee.

The bacteria is spread through droppings, as well as in and around bird feeders.

Residents are being asked to stop backyard bird feeding through February in order to encourage these birds to forage naturally.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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