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KUNR Today: Washoe Co. reports 1,000th COVID-19 death, UNR Med hosts clinics for uninsured

An image of a student med student checking vitals for a young person in an examination room.
Brin Reynolds
UNR Med fourth-year medical student, Katrina Marks, examines a young patient at a student outreach clinic.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021.

Southern Nevada officials confirm state's first omicron case
By The Associated Press

Nevada health officials have confirmed the state’s first case of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant.

The district health officer in Las Vegas said the woman in her mid-20s who tested positive for the variant in southern Nevada is fully vaccinated but has not received a booster dose. The case is still being investigated.

Cases of omicron previously were confirmed in neighboring California and Arizona. U.S. health officials estimate that a small, but growing proportion of new COVID-19 infections are due to omicron. Two weeks ago, omicron accounted for less than 0.5% of the coronaviruses that were genetically sequenced in the U.S. That rose to about 3% last week.

Washoe County reports 1,000th death related to COVID-19
By Kaleb Roedel

On March 28, 2020, Washoe County reported its first death related to the coronavirus. More than 600 days later, the county has reached another grim milestone.

Washoe County is reporting its 1,000th death related to COVID-19. Of those deaths, only 59 were fully vaccinated people - all of whom had underlying health conditions. The rest were individuals that were not fully vaccinated, according to the county.

Since the COVID-19 vaccine was authorized in Washoe County last April, the fatality rate associated with the virus has decreased by 41%.

UNR Med’s student outreach clinics to offer free care to uninsured Northern Nevadans
By Kaleb Roedel

Northern Nevadans who are uninsured or underinsured will have opportunities to receive free medical care through student outreach clinics hosted by UNR’s School of Medicine. Care is also available to those who do not have a social security number.

The free clinics, held at the University Health building on Moana Lane in Reno, begin Saturday and run through late March. UNR Med’s Rural Outreach Clinics will also be offered in Yerington, Lovelock and Silver Springs on select dates.

According to the most recent data, 13% of Washoe County residents were uninsured in 2018. That’s according to County Health Rankings and Roadmaps.

Colorado River main concern at annual Las Vegas water conference
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

A big conference about the shrinking Colorado River began this week in Las Vegas. The Colorado River is the primary source of drinking water and irrigation for millions of people in the region. Discussions focused on the West’s historic drought.

During the first day of the conference, state officials from Utah to New Mexico to Wyoming all agreed that the Colorado River is in dire straits. Opening remarks at the conference focused on severe drought that’s helping bring the nation’s biggest reservoirs to their lowest levels on record.

There were also calls for more collaboration between Western states, as well as tribes along the Colorado, but Indigenous communities have also been historically excluded from talks about the river. Councilman Christopher Tabbee with the Ute Indian Tribe said that’s still the case in Utah.

“Anything that has anything to do with the water, we've been totally blocked out. We've never been consulted on anything, any decisions,” Tabbee said.

The Utes have treaty rights to a significant amount of Colorado River water, but Tabbee said the state is ignoring those rights and using some of that water.

A Utah water official pointed out that the state has created a new agency devoted to the Colorado River crisis. It doesn’t include any tribal members on its board, though he said they would invite tribes to join advisory councils.

Washoe County School District to receive $77 million in emergency relief funding
By Kaleb Roedel

The Washoe County School District will receive a total of $77 million in funding as part of the American Rescue Plan. The school district says it is using the emergency relief funding to provide significant additional resources to support students’ social-emotional needs. The funds will also be used to assist with academic recovery and success over the next three years.

In the process, the district will hire and train learning facilitators who work directly with students and staff members in each Washoe County school, providing one-on-one support.

Father, son blamed for California wildfire out on lower bail
By The Associated Press

A father and son charged with sparking a devastating Northern California wildfire are out of jail after a judge vastly reduced their $1 million bail.

The Caldor Fire forced tens of thousands of people to flee Lake Tahoe communities earlier this year. A Placerville judge on Monday reduced bail for Travis Shane Smith to $50,000 and reduced bail for his father David Scott Smith to $25,000.

The judge largely rejected El Dorado County prosecutors’ arguments that the duo posed a flight risk and said there was no evidence they acted with malice. Defense attorneys said the men are eager to clear their names.

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