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KUNR Today: Nev. hospital capacity faring better than neighbors, Tahoe workforce housing gets funds

An image of the Renown Hospital emergency room
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Friday, Jan. 28, 2022.

Nevada healthcare system seeing some issues in rural areas and Clark County due to COVID-19
By Gustavo Sagrero

Nevada has not seen the extreme toll on hospitals that other neighboring states have experienced during the omicron surge.

"We here in Northern Nevada still are relatively lucky. The impact on us never reached the precipice of what we thought potentially it could do," said Renown Health CEO Tony Slonim.

Patrick Kelly is the President of the Nevada Hospital Association. He said the state’s healthcare system is seeing some issues start to rise in rural areas and Clark County, creating what he calls a perfect storm.

"We're seeing an increase in patients and a bit of a surge in certain areas at the same time when we’re having staff calling out," Kelly said.

Kelly said hospitals reflect the communities they serve, which explains the rise of sick staff. He points to telehealth as being a solution for some organizations, but he hopes to find other options.

Workforce housing project in South Lake Tahoe awarded $17 million in funding
By Gustavo Sagrero

The Sugar Pine Village project in South Lake Tahoe has been awarded a little over $17 million by the California Strategic Growth Council’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program.

The project is aiming to provide 248 housing units for families earning between $27,000-$72,000. The money will also go towards walkways and bike paths for the surrounding area and will create access to a transit hub. The project will break ground in 2023.

Stan Lucas to move forward with Mortensen Ranch development
By Gustavo Sagrero

The Reno City Council will not appeal a recent court ruling that allows developer Stan Lucas to move forward with more than 600 lots for a residential subdivision.

Councilwoman Naomi Duerr said she's worried about the precedent it sets, adding the ruling wrestles away decision-making powers that she believes belong within the city council.

"If we don’t have that authority, and it’s not substantiated by the court system, we’re going to be in a very weakened position in future cases," Duerr said.

The area will be developed on 600 acres of mountainous foothills and watershed drainage channels at the base of Peavine Peak. With mounting legal fees and a trend of court losses the council voted 4-3 to not appeal.

BLM adopting rules to stop slaughtered adopted mustangs
By Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

New rules from the Bureau of Land Management aim to stop adopted wild horses from being sent to slaughter. The move comes as the agency prepares to round up thousands of the animals this year.

The BLM is raising the price of adoption from $25 to $125 and will also conduct inspections of wild horses within six months after they’re adopted to make sure owners are complying with adoption rules. After a year taking care of the animal, owners can receive a $1,000 incentive, but only after a veterinarian or BLM-authorized officer approves it.

The goal is to make it harder for folks to sell adopted wild horses to slaughterhouses in Mexico or Canada. The new rules were introduced weeks after the BLM announced it would round up 22,000 horses this year due to an extreme and prolonged drought in the West.

Last year, BLM Utah wild horse and burro program director Gus Warr said drought causes malnutrition, dehydration and can lead to death.

“That is a horrible, horrible way for an animal to die, and we're not going to allow horses to suffer," he said.

Wild horse advocates are criticizing the new roundups. They also say the new rules don’t go far enough in stopping the slaughter of adopted wild horses. The nonprofit American Wild Horse Campaign filed a lawsuit recently to revamp the adoption program.

Labor authority tries again to end immigration judges union
By The Associated Press

A federal labor authority has sought for a second time to strip the collective bargaining powers of a national union for U.S. immigration judges. In a ruling late last week, the Federal Labor Relations Authority determined that the country’s more than 500 immigration judges can’t belong to an employee union because they are akin to management.

The move sparked outcry from the immigration judges since their employer, the Justice Department, under President Joe Biden isn't seeking to end the union in a marked contrast from the Trump administration. The Justice Department didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

No rain in Reno so far in January
By Lucretia Cunningham

It’s been 30 days since we’ve seen any rain or snow in the Reno-Tahoe region, and with forecasts calling for mostly clear skies, this month will likely go on record as the first January since 1899 without any measurable precipitation.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Heather Richards attributes the drought to an elongated area of high pressure, known as a “ridge,” over the Pacific that’s pushing storms further north. She said it’s hard to tell if we’ll break the 56-day record set in 2012, but the ridge seems strong.

“Receiving precipitation is something that we haven’t put in just because the chances are slim and it’s a long-range forecast,” she said.

Richards added despite this month’s lack of precipitation, past storms in October and December were beneficial to the water supply and improved Reno’s drought category. NOAA data shows there were trace amounts of precipitation in January 1966. Only 0.01 inches were recorded in January of 1948 and 1991.

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