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KUNR Today: Lawmakers reviewing Nevada's COVID relief spending, Vaccines preventing senior deaths

An image of a member from Sparks Fire administering a COVID-19 vaccine.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
The Sparks Fire Department’s first COVID-19 vaccine clinic for adults 70 and older at Sparks Parks and Recreation Gym on Feb. 22, 2021.";

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

Nevada lawmakers review state's pandemic relief spending
By The Associated Press

Nevada lawmakers who sit on a legislative oversight committee that monitors federal coronavirus relief spending met Tuesday to review the state’s progress in allocating billions of dollars toward priorities including infrastructure, education and backfilling lost revenue. The federal government allocated Nevada $2.7 billion in relief earlier this year, adding to billions sent to the state in 2020. Lawmakers said the funds presented the state with an opportunity to make unprecedented investments and update infrastructure to better serve residents. The Legislature’s finance committee is scheduled to meet later this month to approve additional spending proposed by state agencies and the governor.

Western states have highest percentage of homes at risk to wildfire
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Two states in our region top the list when it comes to having a disproportionate amount of homes at risk of wildfire. That’s from a new report from CoreLogic, a financial services company.

Researchers used catastrophe modeling to understand how many homes in wildfire-prone states are in danger of being damaged by a fire in a single year. They found that Wyoming and Idaho have the highest percentage of homes at risk.

"It's a reflection that these are sparsely populated states that have the potential for very large fires that could really impact a community," said Tom Larsen, principal researcher at CoreLogic.

Larsen said having a larger percentage of homes at risk could lead to other complications. Recovery could take longer if a larger portion of people is displaced. Plus, fewer hotels and housing mean fewer options for locals needing shelter, as well as aid workers coming into the state.

Free debris removal available for property owners affected by Caldor Fire
By Lucia Starbuck

If your property was affected by the Caldor Fire, you can get hazardous material removed for free.

El Dorado County is facilitating a program to remove ash, burned debris, structures, vehicles, trailers, along with contaminated soil and compromised trees.

Property owners must sign a right-of-entry form by November 15 to allow county, state or federal agencies to clean the property. You can find that form here.

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

Federal study estimates COVID-19 vaccinations prevented 400 senior deaths in Nevada
By Lucia Starbuck

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services analyzed the association between county-level vaccination rates and COVID-19 outcomes among people enrolled in Medicare.

For Nevada, researchers estimate that the COVID-19 vaccine prevented 2,100 infections, 1,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths among Medicare beneficiaries from January to May. By the end of May, more than 67% of Nevadans 65 and older were fully vaccinated.

The study, which looked at data from 48 states, shows that every 10% increase in a county’s vaccination rate led to a 11-12% decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

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

Tribes: New evidence proves massacre was at Nevada mine site
By The Associated Press

Tribal lawyers are asking a U.S. judge in Nevada to reconsider her earlier refusal to block digging at a proposed lithium mine near the Oregon line. They say newly uncovered evidence proves it was the sacred site of a massacre of dozens of Native Americans in 1865. The new motion filed in federal court in Reno includes an 1865 newspaper report and two eyewitness accounts of how at least 31 Paiute men, women and children were “murdered by federal soldiers” at Thacker Pass. One was from a cavalry volunteer who participated in the slaughter and the other by a tribal member who survived it.

Sparks Marina partially closed for construction
By Lucia Starbuck

The City of Sparks announced that a large portion of the Sparks Marina is closed for construction.

The project will replace flood control infrastructure, which will control the water level. A casino developer is installing a new concrete path as well. The closure of the southwest path of the marina is anticipated until early next month.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America focusing on community reporting and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local community issues are her passion, including the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, a lack of access to healthcare, protests and challenges facing vulnerable communities in northern Nevada.
Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.
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