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KUNR Today: First COVID-19 Death Among Vaccinated In Washoe Co., Northern Nev. Remains At High Risk

Thre volunteers preparing swabs to test residents of a skilled nursing facility for COVID-19. The volunteers are wearing PPE from head to toe, which includes face masks, face shields, gowns and gloves.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Here are the latest news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021.

First Breakthrough COVID-19 Death Reported In Washoe County
By Paul Boger

Washoe County reported its first death related to a COVID-19 breakthrough case.

The health district announced Tuesday a man in his 80s with underlying health conditions is the county’s first person vaccinated against COVID-19 to die from the coronavirus. Officials are unsure whether the death was related to the surge in Delta variant-related cases statewide, but an investigation is underway.

To date, the man is the 697th person in Washoe County to die from COVID-19. Across the state, health officials reported more than 1,100 new cases and 40 additional deaths Tuesday, which is the highest number of deaths in a single day since mid-January.

Most Northern Nevada Counties Under High COVID-19 Transmission Risk
By Noah Glick

Humboldt and Pershing Counties were the latest in Nevada to reach a high or substantial risk of COVID-19 transmission last week, and that could mean stricter mask mandates for residents if either county maintains that high risk. If determined to still have a high risk of spread, the counties would go under a stricter mask mandate beginning August 20.

Meanwhile, Esmeralda County has been deemed to have a low risk of transmission for the second week in a row, which means mask mandates for vaccinated people there will end Friday.

Thirteen of Nevada’s 17 counties are currently deemed as having a substantial or high transmission of the virus, including Washoe, Lyon, Douglas and Elko counties, as well as Carson City.

Some Mountain West States Banning Vaccine Mandates For Hospital Employees
By Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

About a quarter of U.S. hospitals now require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but some in our region don’t have that option.

Executive orders in Idaho and Wyoming prevent state agencies, including medical facilities, from requiring the shot. And a Montana state law goes one step further, blocking private employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations.

“It means that hospitals in those settings are going to have to rely on a smaller array of strategies for reducing transmission and really have to be vigilant with masking and social distancing,” said Glen Mays, a professor with the Colorado School of Public Health.

More than 96% of doctors have gotten the shot, according to the American Medical Association, but vaccine hesitancy is higher among nurses, EMTs and other health care workers.

More NV Energy Customers To Lose Power Due To Wildfire Danger
By Paul Boger

NV Energy customers living in areas facing an elevated risk of wildfire may soon experience more power outages, according to the latest expansion of the company’s Public Safety Outage plan.

It was originally drafted to cover the Tahoe Basin, which is deemed an extreme fire risk. Now parts of Washoe, Storey, Douglas, Elko and Humboldt Counties, as well as Carson City, fall under the plan.

It calls on the utility provider to shut off power to areas facing weather conditions that are ripe for a fire. In total, about one in five Northern Nevada customers are in a power shutoff area.

LA Deputies Shot In Ambush Sue ‘Ghost Gun’ Kit Maker
By The Associated Press

Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies wounded in an ambush shooting last year have sued the Nevada company that made the parts for a “ghost gun” used in the attack. Monday's lawsuit alleges that Polymer80 Inc. negligently and unlawfully sold an “untraceable home-assembled gun kit” that resulted in the September attack. Ghost guns are handmade weapons that lack serial numbers. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of deputies Claudia Apolinar and Emmanuel Perez-Perez. The two were badly wounded when a gunman fired into their patrol car in Compton last September. Deonte Murray has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.

Sisolak Blasts Local Official’s Racist Remark About His Wife
By The Associated Press

Nevada Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is calling on Republicans to denounce comments made by a Nye County commissioner who alleged without evidence that his Chinese American wife could be profiting from the coronavirus. The governor on Monday said the remarks were racist. Nye County Commissioner Donna Cox said at a commission meeting last week that Kathy Ong Sisolak’s ancestry was cause for suspicion as Nevada reimplements a mask requirement. Kathy Sisolak was born in Ely and grew up in Las Vegas. The Nevada Republican Party did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Data shows that amid the pandemic, law enforcement agencies saw sharp upticks in Asian-targeted hate crimes.

Republican Venture Capitalist Joins Race For Nevada Governor
By The Associated Press

Republican venture capitalist Guy Nohra announced Tuesday that he is running for Nevada governor next year. Nohra joins a GOP primary race that includes Las Vegas-area sheriff Joe Lombardo, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and Reno attorney Joey Gilbert. They are vying to take on incumbent Democrat Steve Sisolak, who will be making his first reelection bid in 2022. Nohra is a 61-year-old who was born in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. when he was a teenager. He cofounded Alta Partners, a venture capital firm, and moved to Nevada six years ago. He lives in Reno.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Savannah comes to Wyoming Public Media from NPR’s midday show Here & Now, where her work explored everything from Native peoples’ fraught relationship with American elections to the erosion of press freedoms for tribal media outlets. A proud citizen of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, she’s excited to get to know the people of the Wind River reservation and dig into the stories that matter to them.
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