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KUNR Today: Hospital In Elko Temporary Limits Visitors, Some Vegas Casinos To Fully Reopen

An image of the Wynn Resorts Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.
Vincent Bradison

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Nevada’s COVID-19 Vaccination Rate Still Declining
By Lucia Starbuck

The COVID-19 vaccination rate in Nevada is still slowing down. The state has been vaccinating an average of fewer than 14,000 people per day over the last two weeks. For comparison, Nevada was administering a 14-day rolling average of nearly 25,000 shots per day in mid-April.

The state has administered more than 1.9 million shots. Nearly 46% of Nevadans over 16 have received their first shot and roughly one-third have completed their vaccination.

There are currently 388 Nevadans hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19. The state’s test positivity rate has remained steady at 5.7% for about a week.

Washoe County is reporting an average of 30 daily cases over the last two weeks.

State officials reported 476 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, which is higher than the average of 254 daily cases seen over the last two weeks.

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.

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

Rural Hospital Temporarily Limiting Visitors
By Lucia Starbuck

Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko is restricting hospital visitors after seeing an influx of patients with COVID-19.

According to an online announcement, visitors will not be permitted until May 17 at the earliest. There are a few exceptions. People undergoing outpatient surgery, minors, mothers in active labor and patients with special needs who require a full-time caregiver are permitted one visitor. Exceptions can also be made for patients receiving end-of-life care.

A week ago, there was only one person hospitalized for COVID-19 in Elko County, but as of Monday, there were nine hospitalized COVID-19-positive patients, according to the state’s dashboard. There are about 50 hospital beds in Elko County, according to data from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Biden Budget Looks To Invest In Rural America
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Much of the Mountain West is rural, and President Biden’s first budget proposal released in April spotlights the needs of those Americans. It includes increased funding for things like housing and internet access.

This is just the first version of the budget for fiscal year 2022, but so far, Keith Mueller said he likes what he sees. He’s the director of the Rural Policy Research Institute.

"It represents a commitment to investing in rural America so that it continues to be a sustainable place to live," Mueller said.

Mueller said he’s especially glad to see housing be a big part of the equation. The budget has several proposals to increase funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs.

When a more detailed budget comes out later this spring, Mueller said he’ll be looking for a few things, like whether the funding increases are really enough to make a difference.

"Are there strategies to get the funds out to the smaller, rural communities?" he asked.

Like the infrastructure proposal, a final budget will ultimately need approval from Congress.

Carson Lake And Pasture In Churchill County To Become Nevada’s 12th Wildlife Management Area
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) announced that the federal government agreed to transfer more than 23,000 acres of wetlands and pasture in Churchill County for long-term management and protection. It will be NDOW’s 12th Wildlife Management Area.

The area, referred to as Carson Lake and Pasture, is near Fallon and supports thousands of shorebirds and waterfowl during their migration seasons, the head of NDOW said in a statement.

Throughout the year, up to 150,000 geese, ducks, swans and waterfowl use the area. About 1,200 birds use it for breeding.

3 Vegas Casinos Fully Opening After 80% Worker Vaccinations
By The Associated Press

Some Las Vegas Strip casinos have been given the go-ahead for 100% occupancy after showing Nevada state regulators that 80% of employees have received at least one shot of coronavirus vaccine. Wynn Resorts and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas said Tuesday they got approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board during the weekend to lift capacity and physical distancing limits and remove clear plastic separators from gambling tables. Outside casinos, Clark County lawmakers plan to allow 100% occupancy at restaurants, stores and other businesses once 60% of the eligible public gets a first vaccine dose.

California Tribe To Buy Palms Casino Resort In Las Vegas
By The Associated Press

A California tribe has announced that it's buying the Palms Casino Resort off the Las Vegas Strip. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Tuesday that the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is expecting to pay $650 million to acquire the hotel from Red Rock Resorts. The hotel has been closed since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered casinos across the state. The tribe's chairman says the deal was an important step and expects to acquire the Palms later in this year. It will be the second tribal enterprise to enter the Las Vegas market in 2021.

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