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KUNR Today: More COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive In Nevada, Dark Skies Could Get Protection

An image of the Milky Way galaxy at night.
Richie Bednarski
Friends of Nevada Wilderness
At the Massacre Rim Dark Sky Sanctuary in northwestern Nevada, the Milky Way galaxy shines bright enough at night to cast shadows.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations In Nevada Continue To Decline
By Lucia Starbuck

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are continuing to decline in Nevada.

There are currently fewer than 600 people hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19, compared to the beginning of the month, when there were about twice as many patients.

Statewide, on average, there have been fewer than 400 daily cases over the last two weeks, along with 11 deaths per day.

In Washoe County, officials reported no COVID-19-related deaths for the third straight day; however, they also reported 102 COVID-19 cases Tuesday, which is higher than the average of 43 daily cases seen over the last two weeks.

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.

Nevada Moderna Vaccination Doses Arrive After Weather Delay
By The Associated Press

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says shipments of 46,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that were delayed because of weather have now started arriving in the state. Sisolak made the announcement Monday on Twitter. Candice McDaniel, the health bureau chief of Nevada's Bureau of Child, Family and Community Wellness, said officials would be working overtime this week to administer the delayed Moderna doses and this week's regularly scheduled shipment. Officials in southern Nevada, which includes Las Vegas and three-quarters of the state's population, rescheduled appointments for people waiting for a second dose of the Moderna vaccine for this week.

California Governor Signs $7.6 Billion Stimulus Package
By The Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a $7.6 billion coronavirus relief package. The new laws will give at least $600 one-time payments to 5.7 million people while setting aside more than $2 billion in grants for struggling small businesses. Newsom signed the law as Congress is debating a much larger stimulus package for the nation. California's stimulus package will give up to $25,000 grants to small businesses with revenues between $1,000 and $2.5 million. Most people will get the $600 payments by claiming the California earned income tax credit on their state tax returns.

Recent Snowstorms Welcome Sight, But Not Helping Drought
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

A recent snowstorm that blew through the Mountain West was a welcome sight for states facing extreme drought, but it may not have been as beneficial as it looks.

Snow is usually a good sign in the Mountain West. It adds to the snowpack, which slowly melts in the spring to supply much-needed water to the valleys during the summer, but the recent storm came with a cold snap, and that changes the kind of snow that can fall.

“We tend to see precipitation in the form of snow that holds less moisture to the same given depth,” said Jordy Hendrikx, the director of the snow and avalanche lab at Montana State University.

So, a foot of snow might hold half the moisture of snow formed in warmer weather. Beyond that, Hendrikx said wind can kick up that lighter snow, where it can go from a snowflake back to a vapor.

“So, we sort of lose it back into the atmosphere,” he said.

Still, every bit of moisture helps when states across the region are facing drought. One downside, though, is if heavier snow falls on top of this lighter snow, that makes for more avalanche conditions.

Tiny Bubbles Aid New Push To Kill Invasive Weeds At Tahoe
By The Associated Press

Researchers at Lake Tahoe are using tiny bubbles to combat the spread of invasive weeds that rob the lake of its clarity. The Tahoe Daily Tribune reports conservationists are partnering with property owners to expand the use of so-called bubble curtains. The technology originally was used in the Pacific Northwest to protect aquaculture operations. It's proven effective at the alpine lake on the California-Nevada line since it was implemented in 2018 at a channel on the south shore. The wall of floating bubbles is created by a compressor-powered hose on the lake bottom. They help dislodge plant fragments from boats as they leave the lagoon.

Nevada Senate Passes Bill To Form 'Dark Sky Places' Program
By The Associated Press

Nevada lawmakers took a step toward ensuring stargazers will continue to enjoy picture-perfect constellations in remote rural parts of the state. The state Senate unanimously passed a bill on Monday to recognize so-called dark sky sanctuaries in rural Nevada where people can marvel at celestial views with no light pollution. Lieutenant Governor Kate Marshall is sponsoring the bill. She says designating dark sky places would help Nevada's recreational tourism sector continue the growth it has experienced amid the pandemic. The bill now moves to the Assembly and must be signed by Governor Steve Sisolak before becoming law.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America focusing on community reporting and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local community issues are her passion, including the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, a lack of access to healthcare, protests and challenges facing vulnerable communities in northern Nevada.
Madelyn Beck is a regional Illinois reporter, based in Galesburg. On top of her work for Harvest Public Media, she also contributes to WVIK, Tri-States Public Radio and the Illinois Newsroom collaborative.
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