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KUNR Today: COVID-19 Metrics Rise In Washoe Co., Raiders Allow Fully Vaccinated Fans To Go Maskless

A detailed illustration of the Raider’s stadium. A large stadium is surrounded by trees, roads and parked cars.
Courtesy of the State of Nevada
An artist’s rendering of the new Allegiant Stadium, where the Las Vegas Raiders play.";

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

COVID-19 Is Spreading Rapidly In Washoe County
By Lucia Starbuck

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are increasing in Washoe County. The Washoe County Health District is reporting 14 COVID-19-related deaths so far this month. There were 10 deaths in June and July combined.

There are 131 people hospitalized in Washoe County for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 as of Tuesday. Health district officials are concerned that there is a health care workforce shortage, and hospitals likely can’t face another surge like last winter.

The county is seeing the same number of cases reported per day that were seen last November, at the early stages of the deadliest surge. Currently, there are more than 3,200 active cases.

Washoe County is only behind Carson City in the highest rate of vaccinations across the state, with nearly 59% of eligible residents fully vaccinated.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, or view the state and Washoe County COVID-19 dashboards.

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

COVID-19 Cases At 16 WCSD Schools Cause 130 Exclusions Since Start Of School Year
By KUNR Staff

As tens of thousands of Washoe County School District students continue their second week of classes, more than a dozen schools have sent home staff and students for possible exposure to COVID-19.

A total of 16 schools have reported that a student or staff member has attended school while positive for COVID-19. The cases have resulted in 130 exclusions. Exclusions are individuals who have had close contact with a person who’s infected.

The Reno Gazette-Journal is reporting that 10 out of the 16 schools are elementary schools, where most students are too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Advocates Argue For Updating Poverty Line
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Advocates say the Biden administration’s announcement this week to permanently boost the food aid program SNAP will make a difference for hungry Americans. But in our region, where income inequality is growing, they say updating the poverty line would make a bigger dent.

The poverty line is a benchmark created by the federal government in the 1960s. It’s based on the cost of food. Charles Brennan with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy said it doesn’t capture the true scope of economic insecurity.

“Things like health care, housing, transportation, child care costs — all things that aren't really used to estimate the poverty threshold,” he said.

These are all factors that make living in the West increasingly hard. When Brennan looked at all these aspects, he found the number of people living in poverty in Colorado in 2019 jumped threefold. Brennan said that rise is likely applicable across the region.

Affordable Housing Development To Be Built On State-Owned Land In South Lake Tahoe
By KUNR Staff

An affordable housing development in South Lake Tahoe is now seeking funding. As the Tahoe Daily Tribune reports, the multi-family and mixed-use project called Sugar Pine Village will have 248 affordable housing units on two parcels of California Tahoe Conservancy asset land.

South Lake Tahoe was selected as one of the areas permitted to construct affordable housing units on state-owned lands, such as the conservancy, as part of an executive order from California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Raiders Requiring Vaccinations, Allowing Fully Vaccinated Fans To Go Maskless
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

The Las Vegas Raiders are the second National Football League team in the nation to require those in attendance to be vaccinated. Fans will show proof through a mobile app and can go to games without wearing a mask. Unvaccinated people have a couple of options: They can get a shot at the stadium and enter wearing a mask, or they can get a refund.

“It’s not just about you. It’s the person sitting next to you. And that’s who we are trying to protect as well,” said Raiders owner Mark Davis.

Nevada has struggled with a rise in COVID-19 cases this summer and has implemented a mask mandate and other restrictions for high transmission areas, including Las Vegas.

The NFL is allowing each team to make their own decisions regarding COVID-19 safety precautions for fans. For instance, the Arizona Cardinals are encouraging attendees to wear masks while at games but aren’t requiring vaccinations. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos say they will keep areas sanitized, but they have not encouraged fans to wear masks.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
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