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KUNR Today: Nevada On Track To Reopen, Assembly Votes To Abolish Death Penalty

An image of Assembly Majority Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson
David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
Assembly Majority Floor Leader Teresa Benitez-Thompson during the first day of the 81st session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2021.

Gov. Sisolak Confident Nevada Can Fully Reopen By June 1
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada is on track to lift a majority of COVID-19 restrictions in the coming months, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Tuesday.

Starting May 1, counties can decide their own COVID-19 restrictions. At that time, the state will lift all social distancing guidelines, and school districts will also have their own jurisdiction over mitigation measures.

After that, Sisolak said he’s confident the state can reopen at 100% capacity by June 1, but he says the state’s mask mandate will stay in place for the foreseeable future.

“It’s how we ensure Nevada doesn’t spend the next decade crawling forward, but instead, sprinting forward to create a better, healthier and more prosperous state for all of us,” Sisolak said.

Sisolak said the new reopening timeline is based on decreasing COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, along with the state’s vaccination effort.

A quarter of Nevadans over 16 have completed their vaccination and nearly 40% have gotten their first shot.

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

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Paused Across The Region
By Stephanie Serrano, Mountain West News Bureau

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are issuing a “pause” on distribution of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. They’re investigating the potential link between extremely rare reports of blood clots after taking the vaccine.

Nearly seven million people have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the U.S. The investigation is out of precaution, given that blood clots were not a side effect during clinical trials.

Rupali Limaye is a director of behavior and implementation science at Johns Hopkins. She said the investigation could heighten hesitancy among those who already were reluctant to take the vaccine, or there's another way to look at it.

“It’s to also say, 'Yay, it's really exciting to see that our safety monitoring system is working,' ” she said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been widely used to vaccinate people in harder-to-reach places - like rural America - because it does not need ultra cold storage to travel.

Bruce Y. Lee is a professor of public health policy and management at the City University of New York

“That’s a major concern because as long as the virus can spread somewhere it puts the population at risk," he said.

Lee said he doesn’t believe the pause will be extensive but will be long enough for scientists and officials to find a better understanding of how the vaccine works.

Nevada and California Wednesday both began pausing the use of the J&J vaccine.

Nevada Test Positivity Rate Climbs Past 5 Percent, Again
By Paul Boger

Nevada’s COVID-19 test positivity rate has crept back above the World Health Organization’s 5% goal.

New data from the state shows that 5.2% of all coronavirus tests performed over the last two weeks came back positive.

The state also reported more than 400 news coronavirus cases and seven additional deaths Tuesday. Both statistics were well above the state’s two-week rolling averages.

Overall, health officials have confirmed nearly 309,000 cases of COVID-19 in Nevada since the start of the pandemic. More than 5,300 people have died.

Washoe County has also seen an increase in its test positivity rate, climbing to 6.9% Tuesday. The county is also reporting an average of 43 new cases a day, with no new deaths.

Current estimations show as much as 40% of Nevadans 16 and older have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.

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

Nevada Assembly Votes To Abolish Death Penalty
By Paul Boger

The Nevada Assembly has approved a bill abolishing the death penalty.

The Assembly approved AB395 on a 26-16, party-line vote, with all Republicans opposing the measure. The bill would convert all death sentences in the state to life sentences without parole.

This is the first time a bill abolishing the death penalty has received a floor vote. Previous attempts in 2017 and 2019 both died in committee.

The bill now heads to the Senate where Democratic Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, a prosecutor by trade, has remained tight-lipped on whether the bill will even receive a hearing.

Jacobs Entertainment Proposal Asks For Millions In Subsidies For Reno Neon Line District
By Lucia Starbuck

A developer is asking the City of Reno for millions in subsidies for a redevelopment project downtown.

Under a proposal from Jacobs Entertainment, which owns the Sands Regency Hotel Casino, the city would discount a set of public properties from $3.6 million to $50,000. They’re also calling for $20 million in future investment under a proposed special district tax increase.

The company is looking to construct as many as 3,000 residential units along West Fourth Street. The so-called Reno Neon Line will also include entertainment venues such as an amphitheater, retail stores, a plaza and several art installations.

The city council is expected to take up the proposal during their meeting Wednesday.

Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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 journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
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