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News

KUNR Today: Washoe Co. Asks Residents To Stay Inside Due To Air Quality, UNR’s First Day Of Classes

A photo taken from the top of a hill, looking down at a city with a group of casinos in the far background, along with houses and trees in the middle ground. The city is covered in a dark, thick, smoky haze from wildfires.
Lucia Starbuck
/
KUNR Public Radio
Wildfire smoke, mostly from the Caldor Fire in California, covers the Reno-Sparks area. This photo was taken at University Ridge Park in northeast Reno, Nev., looking south, at 6 p.m. PT on Aug. 23, 2021.

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021.

Washoe County Health District Advising People To Stay Indoors
By Lucia Starbuck

The Washoe County Health District is advising people to stay indoors as wildfire smoke covers the region. The health district’s Air Quality Management Division issued a Stage 3 Emergency Episode due to smoke, mostly from the Caldor Fire. The air quality for Reno-Sparks is expected to be “very unhealthy” to “hazardous” at times on Tuesday and Wednesday. Residents are asked to stay inside, with windows and doors shut, as much as possible.

The Food Bank of Northern Nevada has canceled, and otherwise changed, some of its outdoor distributions, including Produce On Wheels, Mobile Harvest and Commodity Supplemental Food Program (Senior Box Program). Learn more here.

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

Cortez Masto Lauds Infrastructure Bill’s Clean Energy Boost
By The Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto kicked off a jobs-focused tour of northern Nevada on Monday, telling environmentalists and renewable energy company executives that the investments included in Congress’s infrastructure bill would protect the environment and create jobs. Cortez Masto said investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, tax credits for renewable energy projects and incentives to site solar and wind projects on former mines would help Nevada diversify its economy. The first-term Democrat is scheduled later this week to discuss expanding broadband access in Winnemucca and tour a gold mine near Elko. Sen. Joe Manchin was originally scheduled to join her but had travel difficulties due to wildfire smoke.

UNR Students Back On Campus For Fall 2021 Semester
By Lucia Starbuck

Monday marked the first day of school for more than 20,000 students at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Masks are required for all students indoors, and this semester, about 94% of classes are in-person. There are no social distancing requirements on campus inside or outside of buildings.

UNR students are not currently required to show proof of the COVID-19 vaccine, but they will be if they want to enroll in classes for next semester.

As a note of disclosure, the Nevada System of Higher Education owns the license to this station.

Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists To Pay $1 Million For False Medicare Reimbursement Claims
By Lucia Starbuck

A Reno-based medical practice has agreed to pay $1 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false Medicare reimbursement claims for drug testing.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Massachusetts, Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists continued to order confirmation urine drug tests without doing the in-house tests first. The allegation is that the practice billed Medicare for tests that were not medically necessary in order to collect more from Medicare.

The statement included that the unnecessary billing would have had no effect on medical decision-making.

Could Full FDA Approval Increase Low Vaccination Rates In Our Region?
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Vaccination rates remain low in many parts of our region, especially Wyoming and Idaho, but public health officials are hoping the Federal Drug Administration’s full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will encourage those that are hesitant or unwilling.

Mark Dowell is an infectious disease expert and a county health officer in Central Wyoming. He expects the announcement to directly change some minds, but he said a bigger impact will come from more employers requiring vaccination now that it has full approval.

"Just in terms of volume, I’m thinking, employers making it mandatory will hit more people because they’re going to want to keep their jobs," Dowell said.

In the meantime, several states in our region plan to use the FDA approval to convince more residents to get the jab.

Douglas County Asks Residents To Take Evacuation Survey Following Tamarack Fire
By Lucia Starbuck

Douglas County is asking residents and businesses to take an evacuation survey so they can learn more about the community’s knowledge about warnings and procedures during emergency situations. The county decided to issue the survey because of the Tamarack Fire.

The survey can be found here or on Douglas County’s social media sites. Paper copies are also available at the Douglas County Public Library in Minden, Douglas County Community and Senior Center in Gardnerville, and the Kahle Community Center in Stateline.

The surveys are due Sept. 10. The information will be shared with the Douglas County Emergency Management, Public Information and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

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