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KUNR Today: Nevada Reaches 5,000 COVID-19 Deaths One Year Into Pandemic, Mackay Statue Remains

A close up shot of an ambulance.
Alexa Ard
KUNR Public Radio

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Friday, Mar. 5, 2021.

Nevada Reaches 5,000 COVID-19-Related Deaths One Year Into Pandemic
By Paul Boger

Health officials in Nevada reported 385 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional COVID-19 deaths Thursday.

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Nevada. Since then, more than 295,000 people in the state have contracted the virus.

While the state has seen three distinct waves of infection, current COVID-19 metrics seem to be on a continual downward trajectory.

Nevada's two-week test positivity rate and the rolling average of new daily cases are at their lowest levels since last summer. Hospitalizations are at their lowest levels since last October.

Nevada also marked a grim milestone Thursday, as the state surpassed more than 5,000 COVID-19 deaths.

The news comes just one day shy of the anniversary of the state's first confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

In a video, Governor Steve Sisolak called the milestone a historic and significant loss for the state but says hope is on the horizon.

“We are carrying out the largest vaccination rollout in our history, and we continue to get shots in arms of thousands of Nevadans each and every day. And as we vaccinate Nevadans, we must remain vigilant by social distancing ourselves, wearing masks and getting the vaccine when you are eligible.”

Sisolak has ordered flags across the state to be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday.

Overall, Nevada's COVID-19 mortality rate appears to be holding steady at 1.7%, which is in line with the national average. In total, 5,005 people have died from the coronavirus statewide.

Health officials in Washoe County reported zero deaths and just 48 new cases of COVID-19, while 3,555 cases remain active countywide. In the first year of the pandemic, 646 Washoe County residents have died.

Janssen Vaccine May Bolster Vaccination Efforts In Washoe County
By Paul Boger

Health Officials in Washoe County say they expect to see the percentage of fully vaccinated people to increase dramatically in the coming weeks.

According to the latest estimates from the Washoe County Health District, roughly 1 in 10 county residents are fully vaccinated. The number is closer to 8% statewide.

But with the state's allotment of the new, single-shot, Janssen vaccine already going into arms, health officials expect that number to increase rapidly.

“The actual number of medical providers that have gone through the initial process to be approved to receive the COVID vaccine far exceeds the number of providers actually receiving the vaccine,” said James English, Washoe County's COVID-19 Response regional operations chief. “With these additional allotments and the Janssen vaccine, we're able to provide additional providers vaccine which we weren't before.”

Washoe County received 3,600 doses in its first shipment of the vaccine last week. Health officials say they don't expect another shipment until mid-month.

Nevada GOP Brings Election Complaints To Secretary Of State
By The Associated Press

Pro-Trump demonstrators convened in front of the Nevada Capitol to hand-deliver what they said were 12,000 complaints of election fraud to Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and demand she investigate them. The four boxes of complaints are the latest Republican effort to call into question the 2020 election and demand changes to Nevada's election system. The Secretary of State's office said it would review them like any complaints submitted. Former congressional candidate Jim Marchant said the election was stolen from both him and former President Donald Trump and announced plans to run in 2022 to replace Cegavske, the only Republican elected to statewide office in Nevada.

Mackay Statue To Remain On UNR Campus
By Paul Boger

A statue of one of the University of Nevada, Reno's most prominent benefactors will remain on campus.

First reported by the Reno Gazette-Journal, a petition to remove the statue of John Mackay first began circulating last year due to the sculptor's connections to the Ku Klux Klan.

The figure — sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, better known for creating Mount Rushmore — was first commissioned in 1906.

A school committee tasked with deciding the fate of the piece concluded it was not created with racist intent. They are, instead, recommending a plaque be added to the sculpture recognizing the work of indigenous tribes and people of color in the development of the West.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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