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KUNR Today: Nevada Nears WHO Test Positivity Goal, UNR Hopes To Bring More People To Campus In Fall

An aerial image of the UNR campus.
Alexa Ard
KUNR Public Radio

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Tuesday, Mar. 9, 2021.

Nevada Nears WHO Test Positivity Goal
By Paul Boger

Nevada’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is nearing the World Health Organization’s 5% goal.

The state’s two-week test-positivity rate dropped to 6.5% over the weekend. That’s the closest Nevada has gotten to the World Health Organization’s goal since September.

Roughly 296,000 residents have tested positive for the virus so far. That’s about 1 in 10 Nevadans.

The two-week rolling average of new daily deaths has also dropped to six per day. Since the start of the pandemic, 5,040 Nevadans have died, a vast majority of whom were 70 or older.

Statewide, public health officials in Nevada reported 203 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths Monday. That was lower than the state's two-week rolling average of 263 new daily cases.

In Washoe County, the health district confirmed 47 new cases of the virus and no additional deaths. There are currently fewer than 3,200 active cases countywide.

Nevada COVID-19 Vaccinations Rise To 1 In 6 People Statewide
By The Associated Press

Nevada health officials are reporting about 1 in 6 people statewide has received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine since shots became available in mid-December. Washoe County coronavirus response official James English told reporters Monday to expect vaccinations to “ramp up” during the next couple of weeks. About 16.8% of residents in the Reno-Sparks area have received their first shot and 9.8% have been fully vaccinated. In Clark County, home to Las Vegas, the first-dose figure was about 16.2%, with the Las Vegas area nearing 200,000 people fully vaccinated. That's almost 8.5% of the area's population.

New CDC Guidelines For Fully Vaccinated People
By Isaac Hoops

Public health officials in Nevada are reviewing the Center for Disease Control’s new COVID-19 health and safety guidelines for the fully vaccinated.

These guidelines allow for unmasked visits with other fully vaccinated people or those who are low risk.

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their final dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. Masks and physical distancing are still recommended when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.

COVID-19 Relief Bill Big Boost For Indian Country
By Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

President Biden is expected to sign the massive COVID-19 relief bill this week, which includes the largest one-time investment the federal government has ever made in Indian Country.

The package includes $31 billion for tribes and Indian programs, as many tribal nations in the region are struggling to stay afloat.

That includes the Mescalero Apache Tribe in Southern New Mexico, where despite a dip in new COVID-19 cases, the economic situation is still dire.

President Gabe Aguilar said many tribal citizens are out of work, including hundreds laid off from jobs at the tribe’s casinos. He said, at one point, they only had 29 people working.

“Now I’d say we’re about half, maybe 600? We’re still not out of the water yet,” Aguilar said.

He said much of the aid money will help those tribal citizens with basic needs like food, housing and utilities.

“I think this is just gonna help us where come next year, we’re gonna be okay,” he said.

The package also includes big investments in the Indian Health Service, federal Indian housing programs, and critical infrastructure projects on tribal land.

Nevada Governor Bets On Safety As Others Lift Virus Rules
By The Associated Press

One year into the pandemic, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak is still attempting to strike the right balance between keeping the state’s tourism industry afloat while also containing the coronavirus. Sisolak said in an interview with the Associated Press he plans to use Nevada’s safety protocols as a selling point to bring tourists, conventions and trade shows back to Las Vegas. About 1 in 10 Nevada residents, including the governor, have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past year. More than 5,000 people have died, 63% of whom have been 70 or older. Sisolak hopes vaccines will prevent future loss, contain the virus and buoy the economy to pre-pandemic levels.

Nevada Democrats Elect Sanders-Aligned Progressive As Chair
By The Associated Press

The head of the Clark County Democratic Party has been elected as the chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party. Judith Whitmer defeated Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom 248-216 during a virtual election on Saturday, in which the state party’s governing members picked new officers. Outgoing chair William McCurdy II did not seek reelection. Both Whitmer and Segerblom are aligned with party progressives who supported Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential runs, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that most elected Democratic officials backed Segerblom. Sanders released a statement congratulating Whitmer and says she knows Democrats must “invest in year-round grassroots organizing.”

UNR Hoping For More In-Person Activities This Fall
By Noah Glick

Officials with the University of Nevada, Reno say they're hoping to bring more people back on campus this fall.

In an email to university students and staff, UNR President Brian Sandoval said the school is planning for more in-person instruction and live events, in addition to bringing students back to resident and dining halls.

Sandoval said he also hopes to bring fans back to athletic events and faculty back to their offices. But he acknowledged this hope assumes that coronavirus numbers will continue to decline heading into the fall semester.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
Paul Boger is a former 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.
Isaac Hoops is a former student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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