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KUNR Today: Nev. college student vaccination rates vary, Washoe Co. hits 100,000 total COVID cases

The Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center on the UNR Campus.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022.

Memo: 3 of 4 Nevada higher ed students vaccinated for COVID
By The Associated Press

Percentages vary dramatically among Nevada’s public colleges and universities but overall three-quarters of the state higher education system’s students were vaccinated against COVID-19 before an emergency mandate requiring shots expired in December.

A breakdown by campus provided in a Feb. 1 memo to the state Department of Health and Human Services indicated that the percentages for individual campuses ranged from 45% at Western Nevada College in Carson City to 91% at University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Other campus percentages included 87% at University of Nevada, Reno, 65% at Nevada State College in Henderson and 58% at the College of Southern Nevada in the Las Vegas area.

Washoe County surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 cases since start of pandemic
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County passed a pandemic milestone. There have been more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases since March of 2020. More than a quarter of those cases occurred this year alone due to omicron.

Now, cases are rapidly decreasing, but Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said the county is still seeing high levels of transmission.

“While omicron is not as severe, it’s still putting at-risk residents in increased danger,” Dick said.

There’s been an average of about 300 cases per day over the last week, which is a dramatic drop from the more than 1,000 daily cases reported in late January.

Washoe County and Carson City have the highest vaccination rates per capita, with 64% of residents five years and older fully vaccinated.

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

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

Home prices in Reno rise to $600,000 for first time ever
By Kaleb Roedel

The new year has brought new records for housing prices in Northern Nevada.

Last month, the median price for an existing single-family home in Reno surged to $600,000 for the first time ever. That’s according to the Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors.

Meanwhile, in Sparks, the median home price rose to a record $520,000.

In all, the Reno-Sparks area’s median price hit a new high of $570,000 last month. That’s up nearly 27% from roughly a year ago.

KUNR aired a story Wednesday incorrectly stating that the median home price for Reno hit $625,000 last month. We have since learned that the original information provided by the Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors was incorrect due to a software error. We apologize for any confusion.

Washoe County sanctioned homeless camp pivots away from tents
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County’s sanctioned camping program for people experiencing homelessness is pivoting away from tents to individual shelters.

There’s a row of more than a dozen freshly built 8 x 8 foot, black and white structures. Each unit has a door with a key pad and a frame for a cot inside. Catrina Peters a data and policy specialist with Washoe County gave a tour.

“We’ve got some shelving, we’ve also got a heating and an air conditioning unit. There’s also some outlets so folks can plug in things like phones,” Peters said.

The structures are called ModPods and they cost nearly $14,000 each. There will be a total of about 50. Program residents have access to restroom, shower and laundry facilities. The initiative began with camping tents provided by the county.

“Starting the safe camp with tents provided us the opportunity to get a program up and going in a really tight timeframe,” Peters said.

The ModPods were supposed to arrive in late-November ahead of winter, but were delayed. People staying in them must agree to seek a more permanent housing arrangement, but in Washoe County, that can be difficult.

Nevada grant program for children with disabilities gets $7 million
By Lucia Starbuck

A grant program for children with disabilities in Nevada received another $7 million.

The state-run program is called Transforming Opportunities for Toddlers and Students Program, known as TOTS. Eligible families can receive $5,000 that can be used for school tuition, assistive technology, housing and healthcare. $2 million will be slated for children with disabilities in foster care.

The program launched in late October and received twice as many applications than it could fund in under a week. The program started with $5 million.

More information can be found here.

Nevada's largest school districts settling child abuse cases
By The Associated Press

Nevada’s two largest school districts are admitting wrongdoing by employees on school buses in multimillion-dollar settlements of a child abuse lawsuit in Reno and a federal case in Las Vegas.

The Reno Gazette Journal reports the Washoe County School District agreed to a $4.4 million settlement in the alleged abuse of a student last year after the district says it determined an employee “negligently supervised” children involved in severe physical abuse and bullying.

In Las Vegas, school trustees are due on Thursday to consider approving a $9 million settlement in the case of a former school bus driver who pleaded guilty in 2018 to sexually assaulting special needs preschoolers.

9th Circuit lifts 90-day ban at geothermal plant in Nevada
By The Associated Press

A federal appeals court has lifted a temporary ban on construction of a geothermal power plant in Nevada opposed by a tribe and conservationists. U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones in Reno had granted the 90-day injunction last month sought by opponents of Ormat Technologies' project at the high-desert site bordering wetlands fed by hot springs.

Opponents say the site is sacred and home to a rare toad being considered for endangered species protection. Ormat said in its appeal last month it might be forced to abandon the project if it couldn’t begin construction by Feb. 28. The site is about 100 miles east of Reno.

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