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KUNR Today: 2022 Candidates reporting millions in campaign funds, Fire restrictions ease near Bishop

An image of a campground overlooking the Sierra Nevada range
Jesse Pluim
Bureau of Land Management
This campground offers stunning views of Crowley Lake and the Glass Mountains to the east. To the west is the Sierra Nevada mountains and McGee Mountain and Canyon.

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.

Embattled Nevada Democrats outraise midterm election foes
By The Associated Press

Nevada politicians are loading their campaign coffers with millions in contributions in preparation for next year’s midterm elections, according to campaign finance filings published Friday. Races to represent the Western swing state in Washington, D.C., are expected to be hotly contested, including the race for U.S. Senate and two of the state’s four U.S. House seats. The state's Democratic incumbents outraised their Republican challengers in the race to represent the state in the U.S. Senate and the two battleground congressional districts. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto raised $3.1 million in campaign contributions over the past three months, giving her $8.3 million cash on hand.

Harris argues for Biden climate agenda at sinking Lake Mead
By The Associated Press

Vice President Kamala Harris is making the case for the Biden administration’s climate change agenda, standing before the record-low water levels of Nevada’s Lake Mead and warning that “this is where we’re headed.” The vice president is pitching the administration’s $3.5 trillion spending plan as critical to tackling climate change. Democrats have struggled to win support in Congress for the plan. Harris on Monday connected human-caused climate change to the reservoir's sinking water levels, saying unchecked emissions have contributed to drought in the Western United States.

Nevada governor suffers minor injuries in weekend car crash
By The Associated Press

Officials say Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak was in a weekend car crash in the Las Vegas metro area and is resting at home after getting minor injuries. A Sisolak spokesperson says Las Vegas police are investigating the two-vehicle collision that happened Sunday. Sisolak’s office says in a statement that the Democratic governor and the driver of the other car were taken to a hospital as a precaution. The governor's office says Sisolak spent less than two hours in the hospital. Police told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the governor was driving one of the vehicles and there were no passengers in either vehicle.

Carson Tahoe Cancer Center receives more than $500,000 donation for patient lodging
By Michelle Billman

The Carson Tahoe Cancer Center has received more than $500,000 to renovate free lodging for patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The grant is from the William N. Pennington Foundation and will cover various updates to 15 cottages located next to the center, including accessibility upgrades.

Since 2006, traveling patients from areas including Yerington, Hawthorne, and Bishop have used the cottages, saving a total of more than $2.2 million in lodging costs.

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Staffing shortages worsening medical care delays
By Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

Many people in the Mountain West were struggling to get medical care before COVID-19 arrived. Now, public health experts say the situation has gotten worse.

The federal government designates communities where there aren’t enough doctors or nurses to go around as Health Provider Shortage Areas. They’re common across the region.

John Packham is with the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. He said during the early days of the pandemic, Nevada relied on traveling nurses to fill gaps in hospitals, clinics and ICUs. Almost two years later, those extra resources are stretched thin — and so are the agencies that supply them.

"You can only rob Peter to pay Paul so many times before it catches up, and it's catching up with the agencies; they're having staffing issues themselves," said Packham.

Packham explained that’s partially because demand is high in other states. Idaho, Utah and Arizona struggle with shortages in medical staff, too, but he also said COVID-19 has led to some positive changes, like the widespread adoption of telemedicine — which can improve healthcare access for rural residents.

BLM eases some seasonal fire restrictions in Eastern Sierra as temperatures cool
By Michelle Billman

The Bureau of Land Management is easing some seasonal fire restrictions on public lands in the Eastern Sierra managed by the Bishop Field Office. That's because of cooler weather patterns, which have made the wildland fire danger more moderate.

Specifically, the office is lifting the ban on some open flames, which means that campfires are now allowed within approved fire pits and grills provided at a handful of developed campgrounds; however, campfires are not authorized when there are Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches declared by the National Weather Service, and they are still not allowed off of developed recreation sites.

Burning Man announces theme for 2022
By Michelle Billman

The Burning Man Project recently announced the theme for the 2022 arts festival in the Black Rock Desert, as being the “transformative power of dreams” in both a literal and figurative sense.

The annual event has previously drawn tens of thousands of visitors to the desert from all over the globe but has been canceled twice due to COVID-19 restrictions. A smaller, unofficial Burning Man was held this year, drawing thousands to Northern Nevada.

Michelle Billman is the news director at KUNR Public Radio in Reno, Nevada where she oversees a scrappy crew of multimedia storytellers. She’s a transplant from the East Coast, where she earned degrees in creative writing and English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Virginia Tech.
Bert is KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. He covers stories that resonate across Nevada and the region, with a focus on environment, political extremism and Indigenous communities.
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