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KUNR Today: Washoe Co. Sees Fourth Delta Variant Death, Councilmember Brekhus Running For Reno Mayor

An image of Reno City Council
Councilmember Jenny Brekhus (second from right) announced her campaign against incumbent Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve (center).

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Friday, July 23, 2021.

Tamarack Fire Prompted More Evacuations Thursday, Has Burned Roughly 50K Acres  
By KUNR Staff

For the latest updates on the Tamarack Fire, visit KUNR's blog on the incident. 

Firefighters continue to battle a series of wildfires in our region this morning that are prompting evacuations and forcing many to lose power.

The Nevada Department of Transportation reports the Tamarack Fire crossed U.S. 395 near Holbrook Junction around 4 p.m. Thursday.  It has burned about 2,500 acres in that area.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office has issued evacuations for the Topaz Ranch Estates and Topaz Lake areas and are urging residents to leave the area now.

Evacuation centers are set up at Smith Valley High School on Day Lane in Smith and the Douglas County Community and Senior Center on Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville.

US 395 is closed in both directions from China Springs Rd. to the California state line and from CA 108 to the Nevada state line. CA 88 is also closed from mile marker 13.4 in Alpine County to the state line.

Overall, the Tamarack Fire, burning south of Gardnerville, has burned more than 50,000 acres and is four percent contained.

Washoe Co. Reports More Delta Variant Cases, Fourth Death
By Michelle Billman

Washoe County health officials said a total of 218 cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant have been reported. That number has increased by 100 cases in the past week.

The county also announced a fourth death from the variant, a man in his 30s with no underlying health conditions. All four deaths in Washoe County tied to the variant have been among people who were unvaccinated against the coronavirus.

District Health Officer Kevin Dick said in a statement that those who have not received the vaccine are at the greatest risk of illness, hospitalization and death from the variant. He also said those choosing not to receive the vaccine are contributing to the local rise in cases.

The test positivity rate has more than doubled in the past 30 days in Washoe County to 7.7%, while roughly 56% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Reno Councilmember Brekhus Running For Mayor
By KUNR Staff

Reno Councilmember Jenny Brekhus announced Thursday that she’s going to run for mayor next year against incumbent Hillary Schieve. Accordingto This Is Reno, Brekhus said city hall needs more reliable leadership while Schieve has said she’s focused on helping the city, not on what would be good for a political campaign.

Brekhus’s term ends in 2024. Last year, she won reelection by fewer than 100 votes.

Nevada Not Planning Statewide Measures Amid Virus Uptick
By The Associated Press

State health officials say they have no plans to implement statewide measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus amid a variant-fueled surge. Their comments Wednesday come as Nevada is reporting more cases per capita than all but four states. Southern Nevada officials on Tuesday approved mask requirements for employees in indoor public places. State officials say they supported Clark County's Tuesday decision to mandate masks for employees in indoor public places. They say that while masks have been shown to curb the spread of the virus, vaccines remain the most effective method to contain the pandemic.

Judge Hears Fight Over Lithium Mine On Nevada-Oregon Line
By The Associated Press

A judge in Nevada is considering legal challenges to government approval of a mine at the largest known U.S. deposit of lithium. U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said Wednesday she'll decide by the end of the month whether to grant the conservationists' bid for a temporary ban on any digging at the site near the Nevada-Oregon line because of potential harm to sage grouse and other wildlife. She also agreed to an expedited review of a new request from a Nevada tribe to join the legal battle. The tribe is seeking a similar restraining order based on its claim the mine would disturb sacred tribal burial grounds.

When Is It Safe To Exercise Outside?
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Luke Montrose is an environmental toxicologist at Boise State University. He said if you plan to exercise outdoors, you should ask yourself a few things.

"Do I have pre-existing conditions such as asthma, COPD, that put me at extra risk?"

Or are you very young, old, pregnant or nursing? If you are, and the air quality is considered unhealthy, don’t do much activity outside. You can get that air quality rating on airnow.gov, and if you can’t get your hands on that data, Montrose said there's another way to decide.

"How far you can see and coming up with relative landmarks," he suggested.

Take a mountain, for example. If it’s 3 miles away, and you can’t see it, it’s probably a good idea to stay inside. If you can’t see mountains even closer than that, then all groups should limit outdoor activity.

University of California Regents Approve Rare Tuition Hike
By The Associated Press

University of California regents on Thursday approved a multiyear plan to raise tuition and fees at one of the nation's premier public university systems. It's the first increase since 2017, and regents said they would need to reauthorize the plan in five years. UC officials say they need the money to maintain quality education and that it will generate more financial aid for all but the wealthiest families. New in-state undergraduates enrolling in fall 2022 would pay $534 more, bringing base tuition and fees to just over $13,000 a year. They would pay the same amount for up to six years, which officials say provides stability.

Michelle Billman is a former news director 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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