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KUNR Today: Washoe Sheriff Addressing Concealed Carry Permit Backlog, Nevada Vaccination Update

A close-up image of a handgun.
Alexa Ard
KUNR Public Radio

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Mar. 4, 2021.

More Than 14 Percent Of Nevadans Have Received First COVID-19 Shot
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada has administered more than 694,000 COVID-19 vaccines. So far, slightly more than 14% of Nevadans have received their first shot and nearly 8% have gotten both doses. This comes as the state is reporting an average of fewer than 300 daily cases, along with seven deaths per day over the last two weeks.

During that same period in Washoe County, there have been 38 cases per day. The county has surpassed 43,000 cases in total. Washoe County officials also reported one COVID-19-related death Wednesday, bringing the total to 646 lives lost. About 16% of Washoe residents have received their first COVID-19 shot and more than 9% have gotten both doses.

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.

Washoe Sheriff Grapples With Concealed Carry Weapons Permit Backlog
By Isaac Hoops

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is addressing a sizable backlog in appointments for concealed carry weapons permits.

Right now appointments are booked a year out, however the Sheriff’s office has imposed a July 1st deadline to eliminate the backlog. There are more than 4,000 appointments booked, and 72 percent of those are new applicants.

Starting this week, hours will be extended and appointment times will be reduced. These moves will allow for 78 more appointments per week. Sheriff Darin Balaam said the reasons for the backlog include previous office closures due to COVID-19, new software and an increase in new applicants.

Survey Out To Better Understand Pandemic Backcountry Use
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Researchers in our region have launched a survey to quantify how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting backcountry use.

You may have heard the chatter or experienced it yourself — the pandemic appears to be drawing more people into the backcountry as ski resorts limit their capacity. Researcher Dr. David Fiore at the University of Nevada, Reno wants to know who exactly is venturing out.

"We're hoping one thing that we can get is looking at the suspected new users, trying to tease out a few differences between them and experienced users, and then look at how can we reach these people," he said.

Fiore said knowing who’s entering the backcountry now is critical in creating messaging that will save lives in the future. He and his team are launching the survey amid a jump in avalanche deaths fueled in part by a dangerous snowpack across the region.

Former Nevada Inmate Awarded $1.35M For Wrongful Conviction
By The Associated Press

A Nevada man who was exonerated after spending more than two decades in prison for a 1992 murder that he didn’t commit has been awarded a $1.35 million settlement and a certificate of innocence from the state. Fred Steese, now 57, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal outside court on Monday he’s relieved he won’t have to worry about how he’ll pay rent or afford food. Steese said he plans to celebrate three years of sobriety, help inmate support programs such as the Innocence Project and Hope for Prisoners, and take advantage of a financial literacy program.

Reno Airport Hosts Historical Artwork Exhibit From Stewart Indian School
By Isaac Hoops

Historical artwork from Stewart Indian School is on display at Reno Tahoe International Airport.

The exhibit, titled “Propelling Nevada,” features artwork from Nevada’s 21 Senate Districts, along with pieces which were made in the school’s stone and wood carving programs.

Stewart Indian School was In operation from 1890 to 1980. The airport exhibit is open through the end of April.

Texas Joins Mountain West States In Ending Mask Mandates
By Stephanie SerranoMountain West News Bureau

Texas joins Mountain West states Montana and Idaho now that it’s lifted its statewide mask mandate. This move runs contrary to warnings from The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.

The CDC says loosening safety protocols too early could negate any ground we’ve made in our fight against the virus. Dr. Amy Price agrees. She’s a research scientist at the Stanford School of Medicine. She said previous surges of the novel coronavirus have happened with fewer active cases.

“When you have that much virus in the air and you don’t even have half the population vaccinated, it's not like you have created a climate of immunity,” she said.

Price said political leaders have the power to lead by example and when they don’t, it confuses people.

“Then the message is, 'You don’t have to wear a mask.' People don’t know what to do, people don’t know what to do with inconsistent information,” she said.

Price said the confusion would stop if the United States had a unified public health message, and she added that although she's been vaccinated, she still wears a mask when she’s in public to protect others and to show a good example.

Stephanie Serrano (she/her/ella) is an award-winning multimedia bilingual journalist based in Reno, Nevada. Her reporting is powered by character-driven stories and is rooted in sound-rich audio. Her storytelling works to share the experiences of unserved communities in regards to education, race, affordable housing and sports.
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.
Isaac Hoops is a former student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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