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KUNR Today: Nevada COVID-19 Cases Rising, All Nevada Counties Under Indoor Mask Mandate

Two disposable, blue face masks are placed on top of each other.
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Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Monday, Sept. 13, 2021.

Nevada Reports 1,552 Additional COVID Cases, 21 More Deaths
By The Associated Press

Nevada on Friday reported 1,552 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases as the state’s two-week rolling average of daily new cases rose the first time in a week. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the 1,552 additional cases constituted the largest one-day total since Jan. 22. That’s not counting case totals following weekends when the state no longer reports daily data. Nevada on Friday also reported 21 additional virus deaths as the state’s pandemic totals increased to 401,901 cases and 6,702 deaths. The rolling two-week average of daily new cases rose Friday from 859 to 876 after trending lower since August.

All Nevada Counties Under Indoor Mask Mandate
By Lucia Starbuck

All counties in Nevada must now require masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, effective as of Friday. This will be new for Eureka County, whereas the requirement was already in place for the rest of the counties in the state.

Under Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s emergency directive, Nevada follows guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends that everyone should wear masks indoors in counties with substantial or high transmission rates.

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

Skyrocketing Housing Costs Contributing To Hospital Staff Shortages
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

The high cost of housing across much of the West is contributing to staff shortages, just as hospitals face a big jump in COVID-19 cases.

Kelli Hansen is a nurse at Bonner General Health in North Idaho. She said her hospital has been struggling to retain nurses this year, in part due to rising home prices in the area.

“Housing is really hard to find and afford, and so many people have left because of that,” Hansen said.

That, along with nurses becoming sick or burned out, has helped create staff shortages. And now Hansen’s hospital is overwhelmed with mostly unvaccinated people suffering from the Delta variant.

Idaho recently activated crisis standards of care for Bonner and nine other hospitals in the northern part of the state, which means they are rationing care for patients. Other states in the West may follow suit. In Nevada and New Mexico, for example, roughly 90% of ICU beds are filled.

New Design Of Nevada Licenses A Problem For TSA Scanners
By The Associated Press

A change in newly issued Nevada driver’s licenses means airport security screeners may have to manually check the credentials because scanners for now won’t read the bar codes. A state Department of Motor Vehicles spokesman said the federal Transportation Security Administration hasn’t yet updated its scanning system to account for a minor change to the bar code on the state’s new license design. A TSA spokeswoman said agents at U.S. airports can manually inspect the new Nevada license if the scanning system won’t read the bar code. The state began issuing licenses with the new design in July.

Nevada Supreme Court Takes Up Public Employee-Lawmakers Case
By The Associated Press

The Nevada Supreme Court is considering a thorny question in a state where the part-time Legislature meets every two years and many lawmakers hold full-time jobs other than their elected positions: Should a person who makes the law also enforce the law? Justices made no immediate decision Thursday after oral arguments in a case focusing on the prosecutorial work of a deputy Clark County district attorney who is an elected state senator. The high court is being asked to reverse a ruling by a former judge in Las Vegas throwing out the convictions of two people last year because of the lawmaker’s dual roles. Chief Justice James Hardesty indicated during questioning that he was troubled that key questions in the case haven’t been litigated in a lower court.

Reno City Council Backs Ban On Wildlife Killing Contests
By The Associated Press

The Reno City Council is the latest to join the push to outlaw wildlife killing contests in Nevada. The council approved a resolution on a 6-1 vote urging an end to the practice. Mayor Hillary Schieve called killing contests “heinous” and often targeting coyotes. The Clark County Commission in Las Vegas urged an immediate ban earlier this year. The state wildlife commission is scheduled to consider the matter at its Sept. 24 meeting. Councilwoman Bonnie Weber was the dissenter on the resolution on Wednesday, saying that it should not be Reno’s place to take a stance on the issue.

WCSD Changes Guidelines For COVID-19-Related Exclusions
By Lucia Starbuck

The Washoe County School District has changed its policy for when they’ll exclude students from class due to exposure to the coronavirus.

Under the new guidelines, children will be sent home for a minimum of ten days if they have been within close contact with someone who tests positive for the virus and they’re unvaccinated. Vaccinated children who are exposed to the virus but show no symptoms can, otherwise, stay in school.

The policy also stipulates that students can stay in class despite exposure if they’re wearing face masks properly and are asymptomatic. It’ll be up to school nurses to verify if a student has received a COVID-19 vaccination.

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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