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KUNR Today: Nevada allocating millions in federal aid, Super Bowl coming to Las Vegas

A detailed illustration of the Raider’s stadium. A large stadium is surrounded by trees, roads and parked cars.
Courtesy of the State of Nevada
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Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

Washoe County surpasses 70,000 COVID-19 cases, 1,000 deaths in the same week
By Lucia Starbuck

Daily COVID-19 cases in Washoe County are still plateauing. The county’s test positivity rate, or the percentage of tests returning positive, has been decreasing since mid-November and is now at about 7%; however, according to CDC standards, the county is still experiencing high community transmission.

Just this week, Washoe County reported two grim milestones: the county surpassed 70,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,000 deaths.

“We had our first case occur in Washoe County in March of 2020. I think it’s very, very sad and unfortunate that it’s gotten so bad. And it’s kind of hard to fathom that loss of life that we’ve had,” said Health District Officer Kevin Dick.

About 62% of Washoe County residents five years and older are fully vaccinated.

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

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

Nevada to receive $481 million for highway repairs
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada will receive about $481 million in federal money for highway repairs and to make roads safer. U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen announced that the funding will come from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act she signed. The senator said the funding will fix and expand roads, bridges and highways. Some of the money will specifically go to I-15, I-80 and the new I-11.

Washoe County approves $40 million in federal funds for homeless shelters, sheriff deputies, health district
By Lucia Starbuck

The Washoe County Board of Commissioners approved $40 million in COVID-19 federal relief funds for a variety of projects.

A large chunk of the funding will go toward addressing homelessness. Around $26 million is for construction and improvement at the Nevada Cares Campus, where nearly 600 unsheltered individuals sleep every night. Some of the funding will also go to Our Place, the county’s shelter that serves women and children.

Several commissioners, like Vaughn Hartung, were nervous about spending the federal money quickly and running out later.

“I’m thankful that we have the ability to do some of these critical, there’s some very critical needs here, no question of that, but we’re spending money like drunken sailors,” Hartung said.

Some of the funding will also go toward covering new sheriff deputy positions for a year and an outreach vehicle for the health district. In total, the county received over $91.5 million from the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, and they have until the end of 2024 to allocate the rest of the funding.

Election reviews persist despite no evidence of rigged vote
By The Associated Press

Partisan election reviews of the 2020 presidential election are underway in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin while Republican lawmakers elsewhere continue their calls to bring them to their states. They argue they are needed to restore public confidence in elections, but experts say the reviews themselves undermine faith in elections.

In justifying the reviews, Republicans cite concerns raised by false claims made by former President Donald Trump and his allies to explain his loss to Democrat Joe Biden. An Associated Press review has found fewer than 475 potential cases of voter fraud in the six states disputed by Trump — a number that would have made no difference in the election.

New Bureau of Land Management director addresses headquarters move
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

BLM headquarters moved from Washington D.C. to Grand Junction under the Trump administration. About 300 people quit or retired over the move.

Now, HQ is moving back to D.C., but Grand Junction remains its Western Headquarters. In an email Tuesday, BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning wrote that most senior officials will head back East, but two working with conservation lands and community partnerships will stay behind. She says an Employee Advisory Group will help make future staffing decisions.

Ed Shepard thinks the group is a good idea. He’s a retired BLM senior official and current president of the non-profit Public Lands Foundation.

“I think it recognizes the impact that this has had on the employees and trying to avoid that by a further reorganization by involving the employees,” Shepard said.

BLM officials said 30 open positions will also move back to D.C., but there will be more openings at the Grand Junction office, too.

Las Vegas adds NFL jewel with Super Bowl to cap 2023 season
By The Associated Press

Las Vegas is adding the NFL’s crown jewel with the Super Bowl coming to cap the 2023 season. The league’s biggest event will follow the Pro Bowl this season and the NFL draft next year. All of those events will happen within five years of the Raiders’ move to the gambling mecca in the Nevada desert.

The 2024 Super Bowl was supposed to be in New Orleans. A later date brought on by the new 17-game regular season created a conflict with that city’s annual Mardi Gras celebration.

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