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KUNR Today: California requiring masks indoors, Nevada boxing panel to oversee charity events

An image of California Gov. Gavin Newsom wearing a face mask.
California Courts
Gov. Gavin Newsom is reinstating a mask mandate indoors heading into the holiday season.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021.

California brings back mask mandate as virus cases rise
By The Associated Press

California is bringing back a statewide indoor mask mandate. Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration announced the new mandate will start Wednesday and last until Jan. 15.

The order comes as the per capita rate of new coronavirus cases in California has jumped 47% in the past two weeks. California also is tightening existing testing requirements by ordering unvaccinated people attending indoor events of 1,000 people or more to have a negative test within one or two days, depending on the type of test.

California joins other states with similar indoor mask mandates, including Washington, Oregon, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Hawaii and New York.

Nevada boxing panel gives itself oversight of charity events
By The Associated Press

Nevada boxing regulators have voted to close a legal loophole by giving themselves authority over charity unarmed combat events like one that led to the death last month of a UNLV student competitor after a fraternity boxing fundraiser.

The chairman of the state Athletic Commission declared the rule “Nathan’s Law” to honor Nathan Valencia. He's the 20-year-old who died from head injuries four days after his Nov. 19 bout sponsored by school-sanctioned fraternity Kappa Sigma. The rule aims to eliminate an exemption and give the commission oversight of competitions involving students and conducted by schools, universities and associated organizations. Las Vegas police have said no criminal charges will be filed in Valencia's death.

Spread of omicron deepening concerns for strained healthcare systems
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Many Intensive Care Units across the West are at or near capacity, and to complicate those high numbers, states like Wyoming and Idaho have the lowest vaccination rates in the nation. Utah and Nevada sit on the middle of the spectrum, while New Mexico and Colorado are faring a little better. Roughly 65% of their residents are fully vaccinated.

What does this mean about the omicron variant concerns?

"We are seeing for the last year-and-a-half, more and more, that this is a disease of the unvaccinated," said Dr. Hayley Gershengorn, who teaches pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Miami.

There isn’t a lot of data about how well the COVID-19 vaccines protect against the omicron variant, but experts say, at this point, the best protection is getting vaccinated and boosted.

Conservation groups call on Biden administration to cancel oil and gas leases
By Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Conservation groups are calling on the Biden administration to cancel proposed federal oil and gas leases to prevent further harm to the climate.

The formal comments were filed Friday by ten groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity. Randi Spivak is with the group and said the leases violate several laws, including one that requires public lands to be managed in a way that protects the environment.

"That’s a duty under the law. These are our public lands, and there’s no question that the greenhouse gas emissions from leasing [are] harming the environment," Spivak said.

During his campaign, President Biden promised no more drilling on federal lands. In June, a federal judge blocked an attempt by Biden to pause oil and gas leasing on those lands. A recent analysis found that his administration is approving onshore oil and gas drilling permits at a faster rate than the Trump administration.

"We are going to hold him to this promise to end leasing," Spivak said.

The lease sales span more than 300,000 acres across several states, but most are in Wyoming and Colorado.

NDOT planning to widen Pyramid Highway
By Michelle Billman

The Nevada Department of Transportation is planning to widen Pyramid Highway, with construction slated to begin in early 2023. The agency is holding a meeting Tuesday night to give an update on the project.

About a mile-and-a-half of the frequently congested roadway in Sparks will be widened from four lanes to six, stretching from Queen Way to Los Altos Parkway. A section will also be improved with a sidewalk and bicycle lanes, along with other updates.

The cost estimate for phase one is more than $54 million, with $23 million coming from a federal grant. As many as 49,000 vehicles travel the road daily.

Tuesday's meeting is in person at Lena Juniper Elementary School from 4-7 p.m. Community members can also view information about the project and leave comments for another week at pyramidhighway.com.

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