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KUNR Today: Seniors 65+ Eligible For Vaccine In Washoe, Cortez Masto Launches Reelection Campaign

A screenshot of Senator Catherine Cortez Masto from her reelection campaign launch video.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.

Vaccine Eligibility For Seniors 65-Plus Has Opened In Washoe County
By Isaac Hoops

The Washoe County Health District has made vaccines available for seniors aged 65 to 69. This decision came after the remaining seniors in the age group of 70 and up were contacted this week. Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick said email invites will be sent out soon to those who have signed up for the 65-and-up waiting list.

Distribution for this age group through the district will begin at the Livestock Events Center; however, there are also pharmacies and other private distributors already providing vaccines to this group.

Seniors 65 and older can sign up on the Washoe County Health District’s waitlist here or call 775-328-2427 for assistance.

Nevada's Cortez Masto Makes Reelection Bid Official In Video
By The Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto released a video on Wednesday announcing that she’s seeking reelection in 2022. The Democrat filed paperwork in late December with the Federal Election Commission indicating she was running for reelection but did not make an announcement until Wednesday. Cortez Masto says in the video that the state has been hit hard by the pandemic and needs someone working “night and day for Nevada in Washington.” Cortez Masto became the first Latina elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. She was among a group of women Joe Biden was considering as running mates in 2020 before withdrawing her name from consideration.

Washoe County Board Of Commissioners Settlement To Incline Village Residents
By Isaac Hoops

This week, the Washoe County Board of Commissioners decided that multiple entities must pay their respective shares of overpaid taxes from Incline Village residents. Last August, the board agreed to pay over $50 million to those residents who had been overtaxed. Funding for the settlement will come from the Incline Village General Improvement District, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, the State of Nevada and the Washoe County School District.

According to KOLO-TV, the school district would owe nearly $20 million. District officials say that makes up about 40% of their general fund balance and could lead to legal action.

Washoe County Works To Establish Standards For Short-Term Rentals
By Isaac Hoops

With the increase of short-term rentals in Washoe County, the board of commissioners is working to create standards to prevent potential issues. The proposed ordinances establish standards such as permitting and parking requirements, safety considerations and noise restrictions.

90% of short-term rentals in Washoe County are located in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. County officials will monitor and collect feedback this summer during peak season, and will modify the proposals as needed.

Nearly 8% of Washoe County Fully Vaccinated
By Lucia Starbuck

About 579,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Nevada. More than 12% of Nevadans have received their first shot and almost 6% have received both doses.

This comes as the state is reporting an average of more than 300 new daily cases and 11 deaths per day over the last two weeks. During that same time period in Washoe County, officials reported an average of 42 daily cases, but on Tuesday, the county reported more than 100 cases.

The head of the Washoe County Health District, Kevin Dick, said on Wednesday it was “somewhat disturbing.” He said some of those cases potentially stemmed from Super Bowl gatherings.

Washoe County reported two COVID-19-related deaths Wednesday. Nearly 8% of Washoe County residents have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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.

Avalanche Deaths On The Rise In Mountain West
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

A large number of fatal avalanches this winter have ripped through the region, and these dangerous conditions highlight the potential link between avalanches and the climate crisis.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center counts at least 32 avalanche deaths so far this winter across the country. That’s higher than the 23 fatalities for the entire winter the year before — and several years prior.

The link between the climate crisis and avalanches is still unclear, but Jordy Hendrikx said avalanches reflect the weather and when the climate changes, weather becomes more extreme. That includes periods of drought followed by precipitation.

"When those precipitation events come as snow, then we have the potential for these periods of time with very extreme snow loading and then resulting to that obviously very extreme avalanche conditions," Hendrikx said.

Hendrikx studies avalanches at Montana State University. He said the rise in avalanche fatalities could also be connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, as it’s triggered a surge in backcountry use.