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KUNR Today: Equitable Vaccine Distribution Efforts, Beaming Broadband From Space?

An image of a giant radio telescope sitting on a wide open tract of land.
Donald Giannatti

Here are your local news headlines for Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021.

Washoe Reports Lowest New Daily Cases on Tuesday Since Mid-June
By Lucia Starbuck

New daily COVID-19 cases have been declining in Washoe.

Over the last two weeks, there have been an average of 81 additional cases per day. The number of cases reported on Tuesday was below that average. There were only 13 cases reported, which is the lowest since June 17.

There were also four additional deaths reported in Washoe on Tuesday.

Statewide, there have been an average of about 700 new daily cases over the last two weeks and 16 deaths daily during that same period.

For more information, you can find Nevada’s COVID-19 dashboard here, and Washoe County’s here.

California Sets Home Hardening Standards To Lower Fire Risks
By The Associated Press

California state regulators announced on Monday a step toward creating incentives to retrofit older homes to make them more resilient to fires as consecutive years of catastrophic wildfires in the state drive up the cost of insuring homes. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said his office will work with four state agencies charged with wildfire response and prevention to establish statewide standards for home hardening that he hopes will reduce wildfire risks and make insurance more affordable and available in California. The move comes as insurance providers increasingly drop coverage in fire-prone regions of the state due to heavy losses incurred from some of the most destructive wildfires in the state’s history.

Nevada Health Link Opens Special Enrollment Period
By Jayden Perez

In response to President Biden’s executive order, Nevada Health Link opened a special enrollment period for uninsured Nevadans.

The enrollment period starts Monday, Feb. 15 and ends May 15. Uninsured Nevadans will have that period to submit an application for health insurance on the Nevada Health Link website.

This application is available for any Nevadan who missed the open enrollment period and is uninsured; however, existing enrollees will not have the opportunity to change their current plan.

California Uses ZIP Codes, Outreach To Boost Vaccine Equity
By The Associated Press

Counties in California and other places in the U.S. are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely Black, Latino and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic. San Francisco is reserving some vaccines for seniors in the two ZIP codes hit hardest by the pandemic. In Southern California, Riverside County has partnered with an immigrant advocacy group to vaccinate farmworkers. Nationwide, states are struggling to distribute vaccines equitably even as officials try to define what equity means. California's governor said Tuesday that mass vaccination sites in Oakland and Los Angeles will be for people living in working-class communities and warned wealthier people to stay away.

Beaming Rural Broadband From Space?
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

The FCC may award the company SpaceX nearly $900 million to beam high-speed internet from satellites to rural areas, but some small internet providers argue the company’s technology is not yet feasible.

SpaceX was tentatively awarded the money through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. That new fund is giving out $9 billion to companies who bring reliable internet to rural or other underserved areas, but Jim Matheson said the SpaceX satellite project is still in the testing phase.

“This money is there to deploy existing, proven technology--not to fund experimental technology to see if it works or not,” said Matheson, CEO of the trade group, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which represents smaller internet providers.

Matheson said he wants the FCC to take a hard second look as to whether SpaceX can actually deliver.

TMFPD Releases 2021 Community Report
By Jayden Perez

The Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District responded to 166 total wildfires in 2020, and nearly 48,000 acres were burned in those fires, according to the organization’s recently released 2021 Community Report.

In addition, emergency medical and rescue services made up over 60 percent of the district’s response last year. The report includes information on the initiatives, programs, and projects in the district. Also included were acquisitions, such as new fire engines and a ladder truck.

This year, TMFPD has plans to redevelop the Hidden Valley Fire Station. Construction is set to begin in June.

US Attorney In Nevada To Join Wave Of Trump-Era Departures
By The Associated Press

The U.S. attorney in Nevada says he will resign Feb. 28, as prosecutors appointed by Republican former President Donald Trump leave to make way for appointments by Democratic President Joe Biden. Nicholas Trutanich on Tuesday called serving as the top federal prosecutor in Las Vegas and Reno the honor of his lifetime. Trutanich is a former top aide to then-Nevada state Attorney General Adam Laxalt, and previously served as a federal prosecutor in California. Nevada Democratic U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen are expected to help recommend a nominee to Biden.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Rocky Mountain West.
Jayden Perez is a former web producer and student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.