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KUNR Today: Washoe County Not Taking Over COVID-19 Restrictions Yet, Virus Reaches Nevada Statehouse

A close-up image of the dome of the Nevada State Capitol building
Jana Sayson
KUNR Public Radio

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Friday, Apr. 30, 2021.

Washoe County's New Plan Would Keep Social Distancing Until June 1
By The Associated Press

Washoe County will be Nevada’s only county that won’t assume full local control of COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday. But the district health officer said Thursday many Reno-Sparks businesses would be allowed to operate at full capacity as early as next week under a pending revised plan if they have enough space to still comply with the 6-foot distance requirement. Kevin Dick expects the county commission to approve the revised plan Monday with state approval to follow quickly. A state task force has approved plans for all other counties. In Las Vegas, capacity limits will increase Saturday to 80% and social distancing will be reduced to 3 feet.

Coalition Targets Newly Drafted Public Option Bill
By Paul Boger

A group of medical professionals, hospitals and health insurers is targeting a recently introduced bill that looks to create a public health insurance option.

The newly formed coalition, dubbed Nevada’s Health Care Future, began attacking Senate Bill 420 only moments after it was introduced on the floor Wednesday. In a statement, the group characterized the measure as an “unaffordable new government-controlled health insurance system.”

If approved, the bill would require insurers bidding to provide coverage through the state’s Medicaid program must also apply to offer a public option plan. Instead, the group says lawmakers should focus on enrolling qualified uninsured residents into the state’s Medicaid program.

An estimated 350,000 Nevadans are currently uninsured.

State Revises Revenue Projections Upward For FY 2021-22
By KUNR Staff

Economic forecasters say Nevada’s tax revenues are recovering faster than previously predicted.

First reported by the Nevada Appeal, the newest tax numbers were presented to members of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Economic Forum Wednesday. The group consists of financial professionals who project future revenues for dozens of the state’s minor revenue streams.

According to the group, those taxes will bring in an additional $155 million over projections for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, as well as for FY 2022. The revised projections are a good sign the state’s economy is on the path to economic recovery.

The Economic Forum will present a more detailed analysis of the state's major revenue sources such as sales and gaming taxes next week.

First COVID-19 Case Of 81st Legislative Session Reported
By Paul Boger

Officials are reporting the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Nevada Legislature.

The Legislative Counsel Bureau reported a person who works in the building tested positive for the virus Wednesday, roughly two weeks after opening the building to the public.

The building will remain open and visitors are required to take a rapid COVID test to enter the legislature.

Vaccine Distribution Highlights Racial Disparities
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Despite wide eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines, racial disparities are persisting, according to the latest vaccine data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The numbers vary from state to state, but take Colorado, for example. White people make up 68% of the state’s population, but they’ve received 81% of the vaccines given out there so far. And nationwide, 38% of white people have gotten at least one dose. That compares to 24% of Black people and 25% of Hispanics.

Nambi Ndugga is a policy analyst with the Kaiser Family Foundation. She said when it comes to equity, accessibility is key.

“So, it’s making sure that vaccination clinics are open during hours outside of the workday, or are located in areas that are easily accessible by all people, particularly communities of color and low-income communities,” Ndugga said.

If missing work is a concern, Ndugga said some employers can get a tax credit if they give their workers paid time off to get and recover from the vaccine.

Nevada Prisons To Allow Visitors
By Noah Glick

The Nevada Department of Corrections announced it's allowing visitors back into facilities Saturday, albeit in a limited fashion. That's after a 14-month halt in visitation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The department says inmates will be limited to two visitors per visit. Additionally, all visitors must wear a face mask and be at least five years old.

Six feet of social distancing will still apply and there will be no physical contact during visits.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.
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