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KUNR Today: Bill To Block Yucca Mountain Is Back, A Special COVID-19 Recovery

An image of a hospital worker giving a patient a high five
Renown Health
Staff at Renown Health cheer on one patient, known only as Fernando, as he makes a remarkable recovery from COVID-19.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021.

Washoe Reports Three Additional COVID-19-Related Deaths
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County reported three COVID-19 deaths today on Tuesday, including a man in his 60s, a woman in her 70s and a woman more than 100 years old. Prior to Tuesday, the county reported zero deaths over the last five days.

Over the last two weeks, there have been an average of 38 cases per day in Washoe County.

During that same period, there have been nearly 300 additional daily cases statewide, along with seven deaths per day.

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.

Reno Resident Makes Remarkable Recovery After Suffering From COVID-19
By Jayden Perez

A Renown Health facility held a celebration recently after a Reno resident suffering from COVID-19 made a remarkable recovery.

Renown officials said in a statement that for weeks their staff worried that the man, identified as Fernando, wouldn't recover. He had been in Renown’s Cardiac Intensive Care Unit for over two months, mechanically ventilated for 60 days, and in a chemically-induced coma.

He has since transferred out of the ICU and saw his children after 85 days. During last week’s celebration, Fernando and his wife were joined by the Renown staff members who cared for him.

Nevada Democrats Re-Introduce Push To Block Yucca Mountain
By The Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada is reviving a push to block the creation of a national nuclear-waste dump at Yucca Mountain. Cortez Masto, Nevada’s other Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen and the state’s three Democratic Reps. Dina Titus, Susie, Lee and Steven Horsford re-introduced legislation on Tuesday that Cortez Masto has run in past years which would bar the federal government from moving nuclear waste into a state without first receiving permission from the governor and local officials. President Joe Biden has long opposed the idea and has said no nuclear waste would be stored in Nevada under his administration.

Nevada To Let Some Sports Tournaments Resume March 15
By The Associated Press

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has reclassified lacrosse from a full-contact to minimal-contact sport in Nevada’s coronavirus playbook, amid moves to let indoor and outdoor practices and competitions resume with social distancing and other requirements. The governor said Tuesday he followed medical advisers in also classifying ice hockey as a full-contact sport and field hockey as a minimal-contact sport. Sisolak signed new guidelines that will let tournaments begin March 15 for Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association sports that get approval for a COVID-19 safety plan. Close-contact club sports and private leagues remain prohibited — including rugby, basketball, boxing, dance and cheer, and martial arts.

More College Students Eligible For Food Stamps
By Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

During the pandemic, more Americans are eligible for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, best known as SNAP or food stamps. That includes college students.

Typically, most students enrolled half-time or more in college aren’t eligible for SNAP benefits. But, that’s changed under new temporary rules included in congress's most recent appropriations bill. Sarita Cargass is with the University of New Mexico and studies food and housing security on campus. She said there’s a persistent myth that all college students are taken care of.

"That somehow, if you’re going to college, you are coming from money," Cargass said.

She said the results of a 2020 survey found that more than 30% of UNM students are food insecure, and that schools across the Mountain West have reported similar numbers. Cargass said expanding SNAP eligibility is a good first step, but stigma could prevent some from taking advantage.

"We have to help students not feel so alone and embarrassed about these problems. How do we change the conversation, that it’s not your fault, it’s not your family’s fault?"

Storey County Passes Resolution Against Innovation Zones
By The Associated Press

The rural Nevada county where a blockchain technology company wants to form a jurisdiction with governmental power passed a resolution opposing the idea. The Storey County Commission on Tuesday voted to “oppose separatist governing control" in a resolution directed at Blockchains LLC and an Innovation Zone proposal by Gov. Steve Sisolak. Blockchains LLC is the county's largest landowner and wants to build a smart city with more homes than the county has said it will approve. Storey County's resolution opposed Innovation Zones but left the door open to working with Blockchains on the company's development proposal. An Innovation Zones bill has yet to be formally introduced in the Legislature.

USDA Reevaluates Plan To Turn Ditch Into Water Pipeline

By The Associated Press

A federal agency and a Nevada water conservation district have agreed to re-evaluate a preliminary plan to turn part of a 140-year-old irrigation ditch in Reno into a water pipeline. The federal Agriculture Department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced last week it has formally terminated the initial phase of an environmental review of the flood-control project. The move comes after environmentalists and local residents objected to the proposed 14-mile pipeline southeast of downtown Reno. Critics say the project could harm fish and wildlife. It also would affect countless recreationists who use the area for hiking, biking, bird-watching and photography.

California Likely Faces A Critically Dry Year, Officials Say
By The Associated Press

State water authorities say California will likely face a critically dry year with much less runoff from the Sierra Nevada snowpack than normal. Officials say reservoirs are already showing the impact of winter precipitation well below average. The state Department of Water Resources’ latest survey from a network of electronic stations found the water content of the overall snowpack was 61% of the historical average for March 2 and 54 percent of the average for April 1, when it is historically at its maximum. The Sierra snowpack normally supplies about 30% of California’s water.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
Jayden Perez is a former web producer and student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.
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