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KUNR Today: Coronavirus Cases Surging In Northern Nevada, UNR President Tests Positive For COVID-19

An image of UNR President Brian Sandoval wearing a mask while standing outside with other faculty members.
University of Nevada, Reno
UNR President Brian Sandoval (center), who is fully vaccinated, announced Wednesday he tested positive for COVID-19 after he attended Nevada’s football game Saturday and flew to Las Vegas Monday.";

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.

Washoe County’s COVID-19 Metrics Continue To Surge
By Noah Glick

More than 1,600 cases are being reported per 100,000 Washoe County residents. One month ago, that rate was below 800 cases per 100,000 residents.

Local health officials are pleading with community members to get vaccinated and to use their primary care doctors and urgent care in order to save emergency services for COVID-19 patients.

St. Mary’s Hospital Announces New Round Of Visitor Limitations
By Paul Boger

​​Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center will, once again, limit visitors as the number of COVID-19 patients continues to rise.

Starting Thursday, visitors will not be allowed at the hospital, except in certain circumstances. Anyone allowed in must pass a COVID-19 screening. Everyone must also wear a mask at all times or they will have to leave the premises, and all visitors must be 12 years or older.

UNR Pres. Brian Sandoval Tests Positive For COVID-19
By Paul Boger

University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval has tested positive for COVID-19, according to an email sent to university students and faculty Wednesday.

Sandoval, who is fully vaccinated, said in the statement his symptoms are mild and he’s confident he will make a quick recovery. He will spend ten days in isolation working from home.

The former governor noted that he tested negative for the coronavirus last Thursday before receiving the positive result. He attended Saturday’s Wolf Pack football game before traveling to Las Vegas for the Raiders game Monday.

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

Economic Recovery Lagging In Government Employment
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

The Mountain West’s economy has made a comeback since the beginning of the pandemic last year, but a new analysis shows that state, local and tribal government employment is struggling to regain steam.

The Pew Charitable Trusts report found that government jobs in the region are down by about 3% compared to pre-pandemic levels. There are even steeper declines in Nevada and New Mexico.

Mike Maciag is a researcher with Pew. He said temporary layoffs and furloughed workers are a big reason why government jobs aren’t rebounding as fast as the private sector.

“Local jurisdictions have often scaled back non-essential services as a public health measure. This includes reducing library hours, not offering fitness or rec programs, or cutting back at museums or zoos,” Maciag said.

Maciag said the pandemic has also created a lot of hiring hurdles for government — like labor shortages. It’s easier for the private sector to quickly boost salaries to attract IT or health care workers, leaving the public sector straggling behind.

Former Sen. Dean Heller Possibly Announcing Run For Governor
By KUNR Staff

Former U.S. Senator Dean Heller may soon join the growing field of Republican contenders looking to unseat Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak in next year’s midterm election.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Heller is expected to make a “special announcement” at the Carson City Republican Central Committee next week.

Heller, who lost his Senate re-election bid in 2018, has spent months quietly fundraising and appearing alongside other Republican gubernatorial candidates at events in Elko and Churchill Counties.

News of Heller’s announcement comes one day after Nevada’s only Republican Congressman Mark Amodei told the RGJ he was wary of joining the race because it could descend into a “soundbite fest.”

WCSD Trustees Move Forward With Redistricting Plan
By Paul Boger

Washoe County grew by about 15% over the last decade, according to the latest data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, which is an increase of roughly 65,000 residents, mostly in the areas north and south of Reno-Sparks.

That’s why school leaders this week approved the guidelines district officials will use to readjust the boundaries that determine each trustee’s district. The new lines will not affect where students attend school.

Final district maps are slated to be presented to the board by the end of October.

U.S. Forest Service Reopens California Forests After Month Of Fire
By Paul Boger

Most of California’s national forests are set to reopen Thursday. The U.S. Forest Service closed the state’s national forests last month as massive wildfires burned hundreds of thousands of acres throughout California.

Officials said the decision to reopen comes as the threat of fire starts to lessen in other parts of the country and regional weather systems become more variable with the change in seasons. The forests also typically experience a significant drop in visitors following Labor Day.

The Eldorado National Forest in Northern California remains closed until the end of the month due to the Caldor Fire.

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