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KUNR Today: Caldor Fire Forces More Evacuations, Two Nevada Counties Back Under Mask Mandate

An image of a bright orange sun sitting ominously in a dark afternoon sky. The silhouette of a hill with trees on it is visible as a black mass.
Paul Boger
KUNR Public Radio
A look at the sky around Lake Tahoe in Nev. during the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 30, as residents of South Lake Tahoe were forced to evacuate.

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

UN: Weather Disasters Soar In Numbers, Cost, But Deaths Fall
By The Associated Press

A new report from the United Nations weather agency finds the world is getting several times more weather disasters than in the 1970s. And they are costing seven times more than in the past, even when adjusted for inflation. But Wednesday’s World Meteorological Organization report finds that these disasters are killing far fewer people. Experts say that’s because of better warnings and preparations. But they say climate change is increasing the number and strength of weather disasters while people are increasingly moving into harm’s way.

Caldor Fire Continues Spread Into Nevada
By Noah Glick

The Caldor Fire forced evacuations in Douglas County in Nevada and Alpine County in California, after the entire city of South Lake Tahoe was evacuated Monday.

Douglas County residents can go to the Douglas County Community and Senior Center. Others can go to the Reno-Sparks Convention Center or can RV camp with freshwater at Fuji Park in Carson City. Evacuees can also dry camp at the Lyon County Fairgrounds or Dayton Event Center/Rodeo Grounds.

Firefighters are working Wednesday to push the blaze toward the freshly burned areas impacted by this year’s Tamarack Fire.

Crews have made significant progress on the Dixie Fire, but risks still remain with red flag conditions in store for another day. Truckee Meadows Fire and Rescue said cooking and recreational fires with open flames are strictly prohibited.

You can get the latest information on KUNR’s live Caldor Fire and Dixie Fire blogs.

Navigating The Pandemic At American Red Cross Evacuation Centers In Nevada
By Lucia Starbuck

The American Red Cross is operating four evacuation shelters in Nevada for the Caldor Fire. Over the past two days, they’ve seen an influx of displaced California residents. On top of that, they’re navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Red Cross is operating one evacuation site in Gardnerville, two in Carson City and one in Reno. At these sites, there are cleaning protocols, people are required to wear masks and if someone is feeling sick, they will be isolated. Medical care is also available. There are no health screenings at the door and proof of vaccination is not required.

Jennifer Sparks with the American Red Cross said their top priority is to make sure that people have a safe place to come.

“These are some of the hardest days of people’s lives. We’ve had to grapple with these really large-scale disasters and how we can best keep everybody safe when the pandemic is by no means over,” Sparks said.

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

COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Up In Rural Areas
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

More rural people are getting vaccinated as cases and deaths from the delta variant continue to surge across the West.

Vaccination rates in rural counties have increased by two-thirds over the past three weeks, according to CDC data analyzed by the nonprofit Center for Rural Strategies. It found that many rural counties are still lagging behind the national average, but some are closing the gap.

They include Montana’s conservative Flathead valley. Nearly 600 people there got their first shot last week.

Public health officer Joe Russell said it’s being driven in part by a high number of people getting hospitalized from the variant.

“I think they also see that many of the people we’re seeing with COVID-19 are younger now,” Russell said.

A 42-year old died there a couple of days ago. Seeing friends, neighbors or loved ones die from COVID-19 does bring it closer to home.

Adam Berry is a public health officer in rural McKinley County in New Mexico, which was hit hard by the virus.

“A lot of the citizens throughout the county either had COVID themselves or had loved ones or friends that had COVID. Some of them mild, others very, very sick,” he said.

But that’s also spurred a lot of people there to get the shot. McKinley County currently has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

Two Nevada Counties Back Under Mask Mandate
By Noah Glick

Esmeralda and Lander Counties in Nevada will have a mask mandate go into effect beginning Friday because the two counties have reported high or substantial COVID-19 transmission for the last two weeks.

Eureka County also saw high transmission this week, and if the same happens again next week, that county would be under a universal mask mandate starting next Friday, Sept. 10.

According to Nevada Health Response, 16 of the state’s 17 counties currently have high or substantial risk of COVID-19 transmission. Mineral County is currently seeing a low transmission rate.

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