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KUNR Today: Fewer Than 10% Of Nevadans Have Gotten First COVID-19 Shot, Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Canceled

An image of a runner on a big, winding road.
Nico Aguilera
Creative Commons, Flickr
A runner takes part in a previous Reno-Tahoe Odyssey relay race.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

COVID-19 Cases Trending Downward In Washoe County
By Lucia Starbuck

COVID-19 cases are trending downward in Washoe County. The number of new daily cases has been under 100 for about a week.

There were 42 additional cases reported on Wednesday and three deaths.

Washoe’s test positivity rate has dropped from about 18% in mid-January to 11%.

Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said it’s a good sign but the public must remain vigilant in virus mitigation efforts.

“While our demand for testing has decreased, seeing that positivity number come down in spite of a reduced number of people getting tested is quite encouraging. However, we do remain flagged under the county tracking system for both the number of new cases that are occurring and the positivity rate,” Dick said.

Statewide, the test positivity rate is nearly 15%. One of the criteria the state uses for designating a high transmission rate is a positivity rate over 8%.

There have been an average of 650 new daily cases over the last two weeks statewide and an average of 15 deaths daily during that same period.

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

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Fewer Than 10% Of Nevadans Have Received First COVID-19 Shot
By Lucia Starbuck

More than 375,000 Nevadans have received their first COVID-19 shot. That’s more than 9% of the population.

Of that number, more than 75,000 vaccines have been administered in Washoe County. Nearly 16% of Washoe’s population has received the first shot.

Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said they’re still working on vaccinating adults over the age of 70 and educators. Next, they’ll focus on essential shelter staff. Dick said vaccinating vulnerable community members and essential staff simultaneously is a good approach.

“It’s important that we provide a balance between essential workers that we need to continue to deliver services, that are frontline, and are directly exposed, and at risk of not being able to continue to provide those services if they do acquire COVID-19, and balancing that with the needs of the general population that we know are at higher risk,” Dick said.

Nearly 68% of all COVID-19-related deaths in Washoe are among people 70 years and older.

County and state officials are pleading with the public to reach out to those you know older than 70 to see if they need help signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can sign up a senior 70 years or older on Washoe County’s COVID-19 vaccination waitlist here, and see other COVID-19 vaccination options for those 70 and older here.

California Probes Whistleblower Allegations From COVID Lab
By The Associated Press

The California Department of Public Health is investigating whistleblower allegations of mismanagement and incompetence - including reports of workers sleeping on the job - at the state's new billion-dollar COVID-19 testing laboratory. Internal documents from the PerkinElmer-run lab detail alleged problems like contamination causing inconclusive tests, swapped samples and inaccurate results sent to patients. The records were obtained by CBS13 TV in Sacramento. The news station interviewed current and former employees who claim to have found COVID-19 test swabs found in restrooms. Tomas Aragon, director of California's health department, says the state is taking the allegations seriously.

Could More Diverse Names Lead To More Conservation?
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

How different species get their scientific names could create barriers to conservation. That’s according to new research published in the journal, Biological Conservation.

While there’s an insect named after Lady Gaga, and a lichen named after President Barack Obama, a lot of the time, species get named after scientists. Often, those are white men.

A recently published case study looked at over 650 native plants in the remote islands of New Caledonia, and found only six percent were named after women. Just seven percent had been named after people born on the islands.

"Is that fair to name a species after someone from a place that he’s never been to?" asked Yohan Pillon, the study's author.

Instead, Pillon said the naming of species is a chance to acknowledge the diversity of individuals who have contributed to our understanding of the natural world.

Plus, he says, how these names are perceived in local communities, can determine how involved individuals will be in their conservation.

2021 Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Canceled (Again)
By Lucia Starbuck

The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey, a 178-mile run around Reno and Lake Tahoe, is canceled again this year due to the pandemic, according to an online statement. The event was originally scheduled for June 4 and 5.

The statement went on to say there was a large hurdle in getting all permits approved, as the race spans two states and nine counties. The statement also said organizers could not ensure social distancing and mask-wearing could be followed the whole time.

The race has been rescheduled for next year.

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.
Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.
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