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KUNR Today: Climate change could mean shorter ski seasons, Nevada rural hospital ICUs at capacity

An image of a skier rushing down a snowy mountain.
Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Friday, Oct. 15, 2021.

Climate change warming ski resorts faster than average
By Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

The first snow of the season arrived in much of the Mountain West this week, but the worsening impact of climate change could make it harder to predict when skiers and snowboarders can hit the slopes.

A new study of Utah ski resorts shows they’re warming faster than global averages. The findings reflect regional trends that could lead to shorter seasons, and also less powdery snow, because warmer air holds more moisture.

Emily Wilkins is a researcher at Utah State University and one of the report’s coauthors. She said many resorts are consolidating into regional chains to help spread out the financial risk that changing conditions bring.

"We are expected to see more variability in the precipitation, so one place might have a really high snow year and another place might have a low snow year one season — and it could totally shift the next year," Wilkins said.

The new findings echo predictions that the Tahoe Basin will see less snow and more rain. In Colorado, other researchers have found the season could shrink by as much as 80% by the end of the century.

Reno bans use of whips downtown; sound resembles gunfire
By The Associated Press

The Reno City Council has banned the possession and use of whips without a permit in the greater downtown area. The change approved Wednesday comes after police reported a steep increase over the past two years of 911 calls from residents who mistake the sound of a cracking whip for gunfire. Whips are a part of daily life in many rural areas where ranchers and livestock operators use the sharp “crack” produced when the whip’s tip breaks the speed of sound to scare and direct or herd animals. Reno Police Chief Jason Soto said whip-related complaints have nearly doubled over the last two years.

Most ICUs at rural Nevada hospitals remain at 100% capacity
By Lucia Starbuck

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing statewide in Nevada, but health officials are concerned about rural hospital capacity.

Most ICUs in rural Nevada remain at 100% capacity, and that has ripple effects. That’s according to Joan Hall, the head of Nevada Rural Hospital Partners, which represents 13 small and rural hospitals in the state.

“This has impacted the ability to admit non-COVID patients,” Hall said.

Hall said staffing is a challenge, and there are concerns that some unvaccinated health care providers might quit when President Joe Biden’s vaccine regulation goes into effect. That will require staff at facilities that accept Medicaid and Medicare to get vaccinated by November 1.

“Losing one nurse or one social worker or one provider in a rural community is a huge strain on the system,” Hall said.

Hall said vaccination rates among staff range from 60-90% within Nevada Rural Hospital Partners facilities.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada or view the stateCOVID-19 dashboard.

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

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Nevada Health Centers’ Mammovan to make several stops in Northern Nevada
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Health Centers’ mobile mammography clinic, called Mammovan, will be making several stops in Northern Nevada next week.

The Mammovan has operated since 2000 and provides mammograms to uninsured women, along with those in geographically isolated areas, who might not seek services otherwise.

The clinic will stop in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Silver Springs. View the calendar here.

In national quest to boost diversity among elected officials, Nevada sharing lessons learned
By Jazmin Orozco-Rodriguez, The Nevada Independent

Various leaders from across the country recently visited Nevada to learn about the diversity among elected officials in the state, as well as efforts underway to support underserved community members.

New American Leaders is a nonpartisan organization focused on training people from immigrant backgrounds to run for office. The group brought leaders last month from several states, including Texas and Arizona, to visit Las Vegas. They learned about efforts in Nevada to support English language learners, create an Office of New Americans and serve people who are unsheltered.

The diversity of Nevada’s Legislature made headlines in 2018 as it became the first, and currently only, state legislative body to have a female majority. The state is also represented by two female senators — Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina in the Senate, and Democrat Jacky Rosen.

In the past decade, New American Leaders has trained more than 200 people who have been elected or appointed to leadership positions nationwide.

Read the full story at thenevadaindependent.com.

Caldor Fire up to 98% containment, prompting forest lands to reopen
By Noah Glick

Thanks to increased containment of the Caldor Fire, forest officials are reducing closures in the Eldorado National Forest beginning Friday.

Desolation Wilderness, areas north of Highway 50 and west of the closure area, and areas on the south side of highway 88 will be open. Additionally, the camping prohibition order has been terminated. However, officials are reminding the public that most developed campgrounds in the area have closed for the season.

The Caldor Fire sparked on August 14th, and has since burned more than 221,000 acres. The blaze is 98% contained as of Friday morning.

Foundation in Incline Village donates $3 million for wildfire recovery
By Lucia Starbuck

The Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation in Incline Village announced they have donated $3 million to 19 organizations for wildfire recovery. The funds are for organizations who support people, pets and wildlife who have been affected by wildfires in the Lake Tahoe basin.

$2 million will go to the American Red Cross, and the rest will go to other organizations, such as local humane societies and county animal services.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez is a reporter for KHN’s rural health desk based in Elko, Nevada.
Bert is KUNR’s senior correspondent. He covers stories that resonate across Nevada and the region, with a focus on environment, political extremism and Indigenous communities.
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