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KUNR Today: Nevada Guard ending historic COVID-19 mission, Nev. suicide rate decreases slightly

A Nevada National Guard Airman wearing a medical mask and protective garment over her military uniform collects a sample in her test tube from the window of a vehicle at a COVID-19 testing site.
1st Lt. Emerson Marcus
U.S. Air National Guard
A Nevada Guard Airman supports a COVID-19 testing site at the Reno-Sparks Indian-Colony in Hungry Valley, Nev., on Nov. 12, 2020.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Friday, March 25, 2022.

Nevada Guard wraps up COVID mission as state hits 10K deaths
By The Associated Press

Nevada’s National Guard is wrapping up its largest, longest state activation in response to a domestic emergency as the state surpassed 10,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the first case was confirmed two years ago. 1st Lt. Emerson Marcus said Thursday the Guard will close its mission in support of the state’s coronavirus response on April 1, exactly two years after it began.

More than 1,400 Nevada Guardsmen and women contributed to the effort, with a peak of 1,139 members on orders to assist in April 2020. The state activation lasted more than 700 days, the longest for any activation for any reason in state history.

TMCC reopens Friday after safety concern closed all locations late Thursday afternoon
By Michelle Billman

Classes at Truckee Meadows Community College are resuming as scheduled Friday after a threat late Thursday afternoon shut down all TMCC locations.

On the TMCC Twitter account, officials said that at 4:45 p.m. Thursday, the school received “a credible communication of a possible threat.” All classes for the remainder of the day were canceled, and all buildings were closed out of what officials called “an abundance of caution.”

Multiple agencies conducted a thorough search and have resolved the situation with no reported injuries. TMCC officials say no more details can be shared at this time but that there are no longer safety concerns and operations are back to normal.

Nevada suicide rates decreased from 2019 to 2020
By Lucia Starbuck

Suicide rates in Nevada have slightly improved, according to a report by the national nonprofit called Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.

In 2019, Nevada ranked among the top ten states across the country for suicides. Now it ranks 12th according to 2020 data. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services contributes the drop in suicides to mental health support programs like the Nevada Resilience Project.

In 2020, 603 Nevadans died by suicide.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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

Douglas County staff call for across-the-board wage increases
By Lucia Starbuck

Douglas County is recommending an across-the-board pay increase for all county staff. The Board of County Commissioners is set to discuss the issue during its budget meeting next week.

County Manager Patrick Cates says hiring and retaining employees has become increasingly more difficult, and it’s had an impact on services. He added that the county is falling behind market compensation.

Douglas County currently has about 80 vacant positions among multiple departments, such as emergency communications and community services.

Staff are calling for an immediate 2% raise to meet the cost of living and a 7% increase starting July.

Biden administration acknowledges barriers Indigenous voters face, recommends solutions
By Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

The Biden administration released a report Thursday detailing the barriers Indigenous voters face. It also recommends solutions federal, state and local governments should take.

Some of the barriers highlighted in the report include extreme distances to polls, lack of standard addresses and language barriers.

Austin Weahkee is the political director of NM Native Vote and is Cochiti, Zuni and Navajo. He says removing these barriers is necessary for voter engagement.

“We saw record turnout in 2020, and we saw that Native voters can make a difference. They can win or lose a candidate just by virtue of showing up to the polls,” Weahkee said.

Some of the report’s recommendations include adding post offices in tribal lands, ensuring reliable internet access, and clearly accepting tribal ID cards as a form of government ID.

Weahkee hopes the report pushes lawmakers to pass federal voting rights legislation.

Lake Powell’s water capacity continues to decline
By Alex Hager, KUNC for the Mountain West News Bureau

A new study of Lake Powell, which runs along the border of Utah and Arizona, shows that capacity in the nation’s second-largest reservoir continues to shrink.

As the drought pushes water levels in Lake Powell down, a steady stream of sediment is pushing the bottom of the reservoir up. It’s the first study of Powell’s capacity since the 1980s, and a high-tech combination of aerial and underwater radar found that the reservoir can hold 7% less water than when it was built.

The buildup of sediment is not expected to interfere with hydropower at the Glen Canyon Dam, but the same can’t be said for dropping water levels. An ongoing 22-year drought is causing record lows, and water officials say more cutbacks and emergency measures will be needed to keep water flowing through the dam.

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