KUNR Today: Grim Fire Season Outlook, COVID-19 Cases Continue To Decrease In Nevada | KUNR

KUNR Today: Grim Fire Season Outlook, COVID-19 Cases Continue To Decrease In Nevada

May 25, 2021

Here are your morning news headlines for Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

Grim Western Fire Season Starts Much Drier Than Record 2020
By The Associated Press

Scientists say the outlook for the western U.S. fire season is grim because it's starting far drier than 2020's record-breaking fire year.
 

Measurements show soil and plants are much drier, making trees and brush more likely to ignite and fire to spread. A megadrought fueled by climate change is part of the problem. From the Rockies westward, April was the second driest on record. Now more than 77% of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico is in either extreme or exceptional drought.
 

Juniper trees are dying, and fire officials say their canopies of dead needles are like having gasoline out in the national forests.

Prescribed Burn Taking Place Tuesday Near Tom's Place, Cali.
By Danna O'Connor

The Inyo National Forest will conduct a prescribed fire Tuesday along the Highway 395 corridor near Tom’s Place, Cali. and Sunny Slopes, Cali. if weather conditions permit. The plan is to burn 60 acres.

The primary purpose of the project is to reduce hazardous fuels for the nearby developed areas, as well as to restore fire-adapted ecosystem conditions.

Smoke will be visible at times from Highway 395.

Campfire And Charcoal Barbeque Ban In Incline Village
By Isaac Hoops

The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District issued a ban on campfires and the use of charcoal barbecues. This ban applies to all Incline Village parks and beaches.

The fire protection district said the ban is a result of a lack of precipitation causing dry conditions, which increases fire danger. The ban will stay in effect until further notice.

Overdose Deaths On The Rise Across Mountain West
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Five people died from overdoses in eight days in Kootenai County in North Idaho this month. They all likely involved the extremely potent opioid fentanyl, made to look like oxycontin pills.

John Kempf is district commander for the Idaho State Police in Coeur d'Alene. He said they’ve had troubles with black-tar heroin.

“But just not to the degree of fentanyl,” he said.

The pandemic exacerbated mental health challenges and isolation, and that may be part of the reason, but so is the spread of fentanyl.

Alongside other drugs, deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl have increased across the region. Unfortunately, states like Idaho and Montana don’t report what drugs cause lethal overdoses to the CDC, so it’s hard to say just how bad it is in our region.

What we do know is that Wyoming and Colorado had the largest increases in drug overdose deaths from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020. That includes all drugs. In that same period, Colorado also had the largest number of overdose deaths: an estimated 1,500.

COVID-19 Cases And Test Positivity Rate Continue To Decrease In Nevada
By Lucia Starbuck

COVID-19 cases are continuing to decrease in Nevada.

Officials are reporting an average of 161 daily cases over the last two weeks, along with two deaths per day during that same time period. Daily cases have steadily decreased since the start of the month.

The state’s test positivity rate, which is the percentage of COVID-19 test results returning positive, is decreasing as well. It is currently 4.5%. That rate has decreased from almost 6% in late April.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, or view the state and Washoe County COVID-19 dashboards.

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

UNR’s Innevation Center To Host Vaccine Information And Clinic
By Isaac Hoops

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Innevation Center is hosting a walk-in vaccine clinic along with an information session regarding the vaccine.

Medical providers, along with community health workers, will be present to answer questions regardless of if an individual receives the vaccine or not. The clinic will be open this Thursday from 3:30 to 7:30 pm.

Police Reform Activists Remain Hopeful One Year After George Floyd's Death
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

More than 100 people in the region have died at the hands of police since George Floyd’s murder one year ago. That’s according to the online database Mapping Police Violence. Since then, activists in our region remain hopeful for police reform.

"I think that there are many more people awake than there has been in the past where I feel like we're watching our planet wake up in many, many different ways," said Colorado organizer Candice Bailey.

Colorado led the nation last year with landmark police reform legislation. In April, New Mexico followed suit when it removed qualified immunity for police. But, several other measures failed.

Utah, meanwhile, passed a string of bills this session that advocates say don’t go far enough. And in Nevada, bills on use of force and data collection are moving through the legislature.

Activists in states that haven’t seen major police reform, including Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, are pushing for change at the local level.

Sheriff Lombardo Confirms He's Running For Nevada Governor
By The Associated Press

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo confirmed Monday that he’s running for governor next year in an attempt to take on Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak.
 

Lombardo said, “Yes, I am,” when asked by KRNV-TV in Reno on Monday whether he’s running for governor. Lombardo had already brought on advisors and a campaign chair for what was considered a likely run but had not made an announcement.
 

The sheriff was in Reno for a charity event related to Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. He says he's visiting northern Nevada so people can get to know him ahead of the statewide campaign. He will face North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee in a Republican primary.