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KUNR Today: COVID-19 Found In Nevada Wastewater, Listening To Nature Good For Health

An image of a treeline next to a lake.
Birgit F
Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2021.

UNR Research Groups, Local Governments Sample Wastewater For COVID-19 Prevalence
By Lucia Starbuck

Researchers with the University of Nevada, Reno and local city governments are monitoring the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community by sampling wastewater.

From last April to December, researchers have been sampling Truckee Meadows wastewater for the SARS-CoV-2 virus at 12 sewer sites.

The samples showed a clear upward spike about a week before an increase in COVID-19 cases appeared in the community, according to a study by UNR.

The leader of the study, Krishna Pagilla, says the data collected can be a good indicator of the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, making it another way to track the virus.

He says sample collection doesn’t require someone to get a COVID-19 test, including individuals who are asymptomatic and wouldn’t seek out testing.

Sampling is expected to last for about one more year.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Nevada Sees Average Of 200 Daily Cases Of COVID-19 Over Last Two Weeks
By Lucia Starbuck

There have been an average of about 200 daily cases of COVID-19 in Nevada over the last two weeks, along with four deaths per day.

Statewide, the test positivity rate has remained slightly under 5 percent since the end of last week.

In Washoe County, there have been an average of 41 cases per day over the last two weeks.

You can learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada here, along with the state’s COVID-19 dashboard hereand Washoe County’s here.

Becerra Visits Nevada, Stumps For Pandemic Aid And Obamacare
By The Associated Press

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra talked up the Affordable Care Act and efforts underway to expand coverage and reduce the cost of health care during a visit to Nevada. The secretary is one of several surrogates that President Joe Biden dispatched to cities throughout the country on Tuesday to drum up support for the American Rescue Plan. The federal relief package expands tax credits and subsidies to defray health care costs for people who are low income or on unemployment. The former congressman and California attorney general says the Biden administration plans to continue pushing policies that lower costs and expand health care coverage.

Senate Sends Equal Rights Amendment to Assembly
By Paul Boger

A proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Nevada Constitution is one step closer to the ballot, as the state Senate approved SJR8 in a split vote Tuesday.

The amendment looks to secure the rights of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, color, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability or national origin.

Opponents of the resolution say the amendment is unneeded and would inadvertently strip individuals of their rights. Supporters, such as Senator Dallas Harris of Las Vegas, say the proposal is a matter of ensuring protections for historically marginalized communities.

"Only those who don't need laws to protect their laws have the audacity to proclaim that there are advantages that will go away by enshrining equality into law,” said Harris during her floor statement.

The proposed amendment will now head to the Assembly, which could send it to the 2022 ballot if approved.

Nevada Lawmakers Unveil 91 Bills But Still Extend Deadline
By The Associated Press

The Nevada Legislature is facing its first major bill deadline almost halfway through the 2021 legislative session. Lawmakers on Monday introduced a flurry of proposals from energy policy to immigration in a final rush. The state Senate and Assembly both suspended rules that require bills to be introduced for first reading by a certain date and plan to unveil proposals on an ongoing basis as staff finishes drafting them. Although Democratic leaders in the Statehouse originally said they intended to focus on issues raised by the pandemic, the bills under consideration address perennial hot-button issues like gun control and criminal justice reform.

Listening To Nature Can Benefit Health, Study Finds
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Academics teamed up with the National Park Service to aggregate a bunch of research about the link between nature sounds and health. They found benefits ranging from those sounds alleviating stress, to improving cognitive functioning to reducing surgery patients' pain.

Rachel Buxton with Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario led that research. She said certain sounds even connect to certain benefits, like water sounds improving positive feelings.

“Whereas studies that use bird song[s] found a stronger effect on alleviating stress and annoyance,” Buxton said.

Buxton said the benefits are still there even if you hear noises like traffic alongside them.

“I always just really encourage people to close your eyes, take in the sounds.”

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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.
Madelyn Beck is a regional Illinois reporter, based in Galesburg. On top of her work for Harvest Public Media, she also contributes to WVIK, Tri-States Public Radio and the Illinois Newsroom collaborative.
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