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KUNR Today: New Distance Rules Allow Live Performances To Open, Senators Vote For COVID-19 Relief

An empty auditorium for performances. There is a microphone in the foreground and seating in the background.
Flickr Creative Commons

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Monday, Mar. 8, 2021.

Nevada Reports 230 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, 1 More Death
By The Associated Press

Health officials in Nevada on Sunday reported 230 more confirmed COVID-19 cases and one additional death. The latest figures raised the state's pandemic totals to 296,190 cases and 5,037 known deaths. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has already signed an emergency order adjusting the minimum distance between performers and audience members that previously challenged the return of productions in Las Vegas. The tourist destination built for excess and known for bright lights, big crowds, indulgent meals and headline shows has slowly begun to reopen after the pandemic halted business in March.

Nevada Adjusts Distance Rules, Las Vegas Shows To Return
By The Associated Press

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed an emergency order adjusting the minimum distance between performers and audience members that previously challenged the return of productions in Las Vegas. Previously because of the pandemic, performers were required to maintain 25 feet of space between the audience. But that was a restriction some smaller venues could not accommodate. Sisolak signed the new emergency directive on Friday, updating the minimum distance to 6 feet if performers are wearing masks and 12 feet when performers are unmasked. The order is effective immediately and applies to all live entertainment and performances. Nevada on Saturday reported 500 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths.

Nevada Top Court Considers Creating Water Law Commission
By The Associated Press

The Nevada Supreme Court has held a public hearing on a petition that would create a commission to study how complex water cases in the state are decided. The public hearing on Wednesday also addressed how Nevada could improve education, training and efficiency in how the state's courts handle elaborate water cases. The court did not vote on any proposals during Wednesday's hearing. The petition was brought by Chief Justice James Hardesty, who says the idea came to him after speaking to water law attorneys and judges who handle water cases. Most of the comments heard in the hearing supported a re-examination of how the state's courts handle the century-old water law.

Report: Cost To Make Nevada Schools Average In U.S. Tops $800M
By The Associated Press

A new report commissioned by the Legislature shows Nevada public schools have too many students per classroom and too few teachers and support staff. The study released Friday to the Commission on School Funding projects the added cost of meeting the national student-to-teacher ratio average at about $800 million. The report also found that Black and Hispanic students are less likely to have experienced teachers than white or Asian children. Catapulting Nevada from near the bottom to the top in student-teacher ratios nationally could cost $1.8 billion. Commission Chairwoman Karlene McCormick-Lee called that a "target number."

New California Law Aims To Put Kids In Class. Will It Work?
By The Associated Press

California's governor has signed a law aiming to return public school students to classrooms. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law Friday as many parents and teachers question whether it will work. The law offers $2 billion to school districts that reopen physical classrooms by the end of March. It also includes $4.6 billion for all schools to help students catch up. But it has no requirements for how long students must be taught in person, and many teachers unions are still resistant to return. Getting students back into classrooms has been a fraught issue nationwide, pitting politicians against powerful teachers unions.

Could Tribal Knowledge Be Used In Court?
By Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Some Indigenous history is preserved in stories, songs and ceremonies that are passed down orally — rather than written records. And now, a group of Indian law scholars is arguing for Indigenous knowledge to be admissible as court testimony.

Leaders of the Jemez Pueblo say oral histories prove its aboriginal ties to Valles Caldera, an area of federally managed land in Northern New Mexico.

But in 2019, a district judge dismissed those histories as hearsay and struck down the Pueblo’s land claim.

The tribe has filed an appeal and nine Indian law scholars have signed onto a brief arguing for the Pueblo’s oral histories to be considered.

This includes Robert Hershey with the University of Arizona School of Law. He said that dismissal was based on harmful stereotypes that cast Indigenous knowledge as primitive.

“You can’t divorce these stereotypes from the colonial structures,” he said, “And by colonial structures, I mean, for example, evidentiary rules that prevent the admission of a great amount of oral and traditional history in court.”

Nevadans In Majority As Senate OKs COVID-19 Relief Bill
By The Associated Press

Nevada Democrats Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto were both in the razor-thin majority Saturday as the U.S. Senate approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. The 50-49 vote gives President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers a victory that they say is crucial for hoisting the country out of the pandemic and economic doldrums. Senate passage sets up final action by the House next week. Cortez Masto said she was a leader in negotiations in shaping the bill that will “provide Nevadans with vital coronavirus relief,” and Rosen said the legislation “contains numerous provisions that will help to see the Silver State through this challenging time.”

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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