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KUNR Today: Mask Confusion In Washoe Co. Schools, How Vaccination Rates Impact Herd Immunity

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Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

Republican North Las Vegas Mayor Running For Nevada Governor
By The Associated Press

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee announced Monday he's running for governor next year, challenging incumbent Democrat Steve Sisolak. Lee switched his political affiliation last month from Democrat to Republican, citing a shift toward socialism in the Democratic Party. He repeated that rejection of socialism in his campaign announcement Monday and called Sisolak's agenda "radical." Sisolak's campaign did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Lee says he plans to focus his campaign on "embracing small government, defending free speech, protecting unborn life, and supporting the right to bear arms." Lee served in the Nevada Legislature before winning election as mayor of North Las Vegas in 2013.

Confusion Remains Regarding WCSD’s Decision To Allow Students 9 And Younger To Not Wear Masks
By KUNR Staff

After the Washoe County School District announced Sunday night that students nine and younger don’t have to wear masks, teachers across the district have been confused on how to proceed.

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, the district is defending the move even though the CDC recommends all children in school continue wearing masks for the remainder of this school year.

The newspaper is also reporting that various principals have instructed staff that masks do not need to be enforced for kids that are ten and older.

California Won't Lift Its Mask Requirement For Another Month
By The Associated Press

California won't lift its mask requirement until June 15 to give the public time to prepare and to ensure cases stay low. State health director Dr. Mark Ghaly said Monday that a four-week delay will allow businesses time to make adjustments and the state to get more people vaccinated. Many other states lifted mask requirements last week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it's safe for fully vaccinated people to skip face coverings and social distancing in most situations. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said that if cases remain low, the state will drop nearly all coronavirus restrictions on June 15.

Nevada Unemployment Office Adopts Id.Me Claims Verification
By The Associated Press

Nevada's state jobless office has signed on with an identity verification system that requires an additional step for new regular unemployment insurance applicants providing personal information online. The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said the system, called ID.me, is meant to ensure security and streamline claims. Beginning Tuesday, applicants for regular claims will be required to use the new system if they're told to do so by the unemployment office. Department employment security chief Lynda Parven says the system is required under federal guidelines and is already used by more than 25 states and several federal agencies.

Could Inconsistent Vaccination Rates Impact Herd Immunity?
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

COVID-19 vaccine supplies are now abundant. Nationally, about 60% of adults have had at least one shot, but in our region, most people are still unvaccinated.

Wyoming has the lowest vaccination rate in the Mountain West. Only about one-third of residents have gotten at least one vaccine shot. To achieve herd immunity, epidemiologists suggest we need about 70% or more people to become immune; however, we don’t know how many people built up antibodies after getting the virus, and how long those antibodies might last.

Mark Dowell is an infectious disease physician and Natrona County Health officer in Casper, Wyoming.

“The question that we cannot answer yet, is of the people that had the infection but didn’t know it, did they get good protection from their immune system to add to our herd immunity?” Dowell asked.

Dowell said we don’t even know how long the vaccines will stave off the virus, though many expect it to last at least a year. At the same time, areas with low rates of immunity could allow the virus to mutate into a more dangerous strain.

California Places Tesla's 'Full Self-Driving' Under Review
By The Associated Press

California's Department of Motor Vehicles is reviewing whether Tesla is violating a state regulation by advertising its vehicles as being fully autonomous without meeting the legal definition of self-driving. The department said Monday that the regulation prohibits advertising vehicles for sale or lease as autonomous if they can't comply with the regulatory definition. Tesla advertises a $10,000 "Full Self-Driving" option on its website for its electric vehicles, but the same website says the vehicles cannot drive themselves. CEO Elon Musk has said he expects to have autonomous vehicles that can drive more safely than humans sometime this year. Tesla has disbanded its public relations department and did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

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