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KUNR Today: Delta Variant Causing Surge Of COVID-19 In Nev., Douglas Co. Library Director Resigns

An image of a book drop-off location outside of the Senior Center at the Douglas County Library.
Douglas County Library

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Friday, July 16, 2021.

New COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations Soar In Nevada
By The Associated Press

Fueled by continued growth in the spread of the delta variant, Nevada’s average daily number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and positivity rate all have soared to their highest levels since February. The 14-day average positivity rate statewide has tripled from 3.4% on June 11 to 10.9% as of Wednesday. It's the first time its topped 10% since mid-February. State health officials said Thursday they’re seeing signs of improvement in the effort to get more Nevadans vaccinated. But nearly half of the state’s eligible residents haven’t been fully vaccinated and at the current rate, it will take until December to reach the goal of 70% statewide.

Wildfire Preparedness Level The Highest In A Decade
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

Severe wildfires across the West have prompted the nation’s top fire agency to increase its preparedness level to the highest and most critical stage. This is the earliest the agency has done so in a decade.

The National Interagency Fire Center set its preparedness level to 5 on Wednesday night. This means that at least 80% of the federal government’s fire personnel are currently on the job helping fight wildfires.

Large, uncontained blazes are being driven by excessive heat, high winds and deepening drought. The level five designation came much earlier than usual.

“We’re a full month ahead of where we were last year,” said Stanton Florea, a spokesperson for the National Interagency Fire Center.

He said they normally have about 2,500 personnel fighting fires this time of year. Now, they have more than 17,000.

“It’s an all hands on deck approach. That’s what comes with the PL 5 level,” Florea said.

Scientists say that climate change is helping drive more severe wildfire seasons in the West.

Douglas County Library Director Resigns
By KUNR Staff

Douglas County officials announced Library Director Amy Dodson’s resignation Thursday.

Last year, Dodson was drafting a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Douglas County Sheriff Dan Coverley released his own letter to library officials in response to the effort, stating, “Please do not feel the need to call 911.” You can read more about the controversy here

The Douglas County Library Board will hold a meeting next week to discuss appointing an interim director.

Colorado River Reservoirs Lowered To Preserve Lake Powell Hydroelectricity
By Luke Runyon, KUNC

Emergency water releases from reservoirs upstream of Lake Powell began Thursday to preserve its ability to generate hydroelectric power.

The Bureau of Reclamation started releasing additional water from Flaming Gorge reservoir in Wyoming. Additional releases from Blue Mesa in Colorado and Navajo in New Mexico are planned for later this year.

Lake Powell is projected to hit a record low this month. Emergency releases could last until December. A federal shortage declaration in the river’s lower basin is expected next month.

Sisolak Marks Small Business Grant Milestone
By Sean Golonka, The Nevada Independent

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that a state-funded grant provided small-businesses and nonprofit organizations with more than $100 million in pandemic-relief funding.

First reportedby The Nevada Independent, nearly 9,400 businesses and organizations have received funding from the Pandemic Emergency Technical Support Program. The grants prioritize disadvantaged businesses, which received more than half the grants currently awarded.

Sisolak said that more federal assistance may arrive with the American Rescue Plan.

As KUNC’s reporter covering the Colorado River Basin, I dig into stories that show how water issues can both unite and divide communities throughout the Western U.S. I produce feature stories for KUNC and a network of public media stations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada.
Sean Golonka joined The Nevada Independent after working as a contributor for Boston University News Service and a columnist for The Daily Free Press. Sean also worked as a producer for BUTV10's award-winning professional sports talk show Offsides.
Isaac Hoops is a former student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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