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KUNR Today: Some Washoe Co. COVID-19 testing sites pause service, Inflation soars in Mountain West

A medical professional is holding an oral swab for a COVID-19 test.
Stevanovic Igor
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A medical professional is using an oral swab to collect a specimen for a COVID-19 test.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.

Some COVID-19 testing sites in Washoe County pause service due to high demand
By Gustavo Sagrero

Northshore Clinical Labs, which is contracted by Washoe County to conduct free COVID-19 testing walk-in clinics, stopped some of its service throughout the county Tuesday due to a higher than anticipated demand for testing. On Monday, the company cited staffing shortages at its Bartley Ranch location in Reno, which temporarily closed.

Washoe Health saw a spike in 1,447 new cases Sunday. Northshore Clinical Labs will continue working at its own clinics and through its partnerships with schools, nursing homes and other senior living providers.

Update at 9:15 am on Thursday, January 20, 2022: According to the Washoe County Health District, the walk-in testing sites run by Northshore Clinical Labs are back open after the temporary pause in service. Additional COVID-19 testing locations can be found on the Nevada Health Response website.

NDOT working with the City of Reno for roadway maintenance, homeless sweeps
By Gustavo Sagrero

The City of Reno will begin working with the Nevada Department of Transportation to address the growing number of people living in tents or other forms of shelter on the highway system.

City officials from the so-called Clean and Safe team will provide folks with a date to leave their shelter, as well as promote the use of some of the city’s resources, like the Nevada Cares Campus, an emergency shelter for Washoe County. Any tents or shelters that are found after that deadline on highway systems under NDOT’s jurisdiction will be collected by a contractor.

Rising inflation in the Mountain West reaches highest levels in decades
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

The Bureau of Labor Statistics put out a report last week that had alarm bells ringing all over the U.S.

While the report sparked nationwide concerns, inflation is hitting the Mountain West the hardest. When broken down to regions of the country, the Mid-Atlantic had a 5.8% increase in consumer prices over the last year, and New England’s rose by 6.2%. However, the Mountain West had an 8.6% increase, which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Some of the driving factors are food, transportation and energy, including the cost of gas and electricity.

California suspends some disability claims, citing fraud
By The Associated Press

California says scammers are stealing doctors’ credentials to file fake disability claims. The Employment Development Department said Thursday they have suspended 345,000 disability claims associated with 27,000 doctors. The department said most of those claims are likely fraudulent. But some of them are legitimate claims from people who can’t work because of an injury. Now, their disability checks have stopped.

State officials said Thursday their top priority is to verify doctors’ identities to halt the fake claims and resume the legitimate ones. Assemblymember Jim Patterson said some of his constituents have not been paid for weeks.

Some Western mayors say they lack funding to address homelessness
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Only four percent of Western mayors say they have a lot of control in tackling homelessness, according to a new survey by Boston University. Many mayors also say police have at least some influence over their homelessness policies. Survey co-author Katherine Levine Einstein says that can be a problem.

“All too often, even when the stated policy is one of harm reduction, it can devolve into punitive interactions when we staff those kinds of policymaking functions with the police,” said Einstein.

The majority of mayors said they valued police perspectives on homelessness above the views of formerly unhoused people or those currently without shelter. Einstein says this traces back to the lack of funding, and hence, lack of control mayors feel they have over the crisis. One solution, she says, is investing more in social services that can work directly with unhoused people.

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