Mountain West News Bureau | KUNR

Mountain West News Bureau

KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West. 

Contributing stations include Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The editor for the Mountain West News Bureau is Kate Concannon, a long-time NPR regional editor. Stephanie Serrano is the KUNR reporter for this partnership.

There are a lot of questions about why the pro-Trump mob was able to breach the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. One pertains to the National Guard: Where were they?


A color coded US map highlighting different rural areas that do not have pharmacies designated to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
Screenshot / RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis

When the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will partner with retail pharmacies such as Costco and Walgreen to help distribute them. But a new analysis of rural counties finds that as many as 750 counties don't have one of those pharmacies.

The Food Bank for Larimer County’s warehouse in Loveland looks like a factory assembly line. People are busy preparing and packing provisions for when the doors open in an hour.

"Cookies, protein bars, coffee – a little of everything," says volunteer Ruben Marez. "I kind of like to mix and match."

Every year Marez travels to volunteer with the Red Cross and help with disaster relief. This year, he decided he was needed close to home and began volunteering at the onset of the pandemic.

Several people wearing masks standing on a stair case looking at the camera.
Courtesy of the Nevada Public Health Training Center's COVID-19 Crew

Dulce Leyva is a bilingual contact tracer who lives in Reno, Nevada. Her job is to reach out to people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and make sure they're self-isolating. And she tries to help them remember who they've been around and could have been exposed to the virus.

An investigator is examining the snow pack of an avalanche on a mountain.
Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Avalanches in the Rocky Mountains killed four people late last week, three in Colorado and one in Wyoming. Drew Hardesty is with the Utah Avalanche Center. He says it's been a fairly dry early season for many states around the West.

A landscape with mountain peaks made of volcanic rock and dirt in the foreground. Snowcapped mountains line the background.
Noah Glick

The Sony Handycam, of all things, foretold what may soon be a massive mine on public lands in Nevada.

In the early 1990s, the camcorder became the first product to use lithium-ion batteries commercially. Since then, the technology has been used to power our laptops, smartphones, and now electric vehicles and homes.


Soon after she was elected as one of America's first Indigenous congresswomen in 2018, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland paid a visit to her constituents at the Pueblo of Sandia, just outside of Albuquerque. 

"She came to the Pueblo for one of our feast days," said Stephine Poston, a tribal citizen and advocate for Native women leadership. "And the young girls, a couple of them were following her around and she stopped to talk to them. It was an amazing thing to see and witness." 

Poston said Haaland may as well have been a celebrity to those girls, but she didn't act like one. 

"She's just that person who will stop and see you," Poston said. 

And she said that's how Pueblo people, and Indigenous people across the country, have been feeling since Haaland was nominated to lead the Department of the Interior: Seen.

Panic buying has slowed down considerably since this spring, but one thing still lingering is higher demand for meat that's easier for people to cook themselves.


Three men installing solar panels.
Unsplash

It's been a tough year for gas and oil prices, but solar power has seen steady growth during this pandemic year. 

This week, the northern spotted owl and the monarch butterfly were denied protections under the Endangered Species Act, even though both animals qualify.

States across the Mountain West are receiving their first shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. And the Moderna vaccine will be coming once it's granted emergency authorization by the FDA. But as distribution gets underway, other COVID-19 prevention measures including frequent hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing will still be necessary. 

Evictions have cascading effects, and researchers have found they could be fatal during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new study draws the connection between a lack of stable housing and an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

An illustration of a human mouth opening while it releases contaminated aerosol particles.
Elena Abrazhevich / Adobe Stock

Indoor dining is allowed across the Mountain West. But new research shows that even with current social distancing guidelines, the coronavirus can spread easily inside restaurants.

In April, Google and Apple launched software that state health authorities can use to build COVID-19 contact tracing apps. But fewer than half of U.S. states have taken advantage, and most people living in those states aren't putting the apps to use.

In the Mountain West, Colorado's Exposure Notifications app has had the most success, with about 20% of the state's population having downloaded it. But fewer than 3% of Wyoming and Nevada residents have downloaded their states' smartphone apps.

More Than A Number: Remembering Sione 'Ray' Tuineau

Dec 13, 2020

Sione Ray Tuineau was 35-years-old and lived in West Valley City. He went by Ray, and was a husband, father, one of eight siblings and — by all accounts — the life of the party.

“He was always full of light. Every time he walked in the room, you knew you were gonna have a good time,” said A.J. Tuineau, his brother.

Ray’s widow Juliet said that sense of fun was part of everything he did — especially parenting.

“He would rap with my kids, he would sing off key with my kids, he would have little dance parties,” she said.

On the heels of a federal judge’s ruling to fully restore DACA, advocates in the Mountain West are hearing from an outpouring of young people hoping to apply for the first time.

Adriel Orozco, an immigration attorney and executive director of the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, says the majority of calls his law office is receiving are from potential first-time applicants.

He says the ruling brings some measure of relief after the uncertainty of the past few years, which have caused “heartache for our community.”

Anti-mask and anti-lockdown protesters are targeting public health officials and politicians in parts of the Mountain West – sometimes at their own homes.


Marnie Miller Blevins was 49-years-old and a long-time nurse in Garfield County. Friends and family remember her for always joking around with those she loved.

DeAnn Brown first met Blevins through their jobs at Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch, and they grew to be good friends.

People really enjoyed her because she could just kind of get away with saying things to people that nobody else would probably dare say,” Brown, who is a nurse administrator at the hospital, said. “She had a real fun personality, and people really enjoyed her.”

Karen Snyder has never been afraid to use her voice. She learned that from the women who raised her on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

"I come from a very long line of strong women. Grandmothers, mothers, a very strong line of women that are very outspoken," Snyder said.

That came in handy in 2016, when she was elected as one of two women on the six-person Eastern Shoshone Business Council.

Exterior of a Baptist church with gothic-inspired architecture.
Steven Martin / Flickr Creative Commons

New Mexico and Colorado put limitations in place back in the spring and summer, respectively. And Nevada recently tightened its capacity restrictions even further to 25%. 

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