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.

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%. 

Soil scientists huddled together in a forest listening to an instructor.
InciWeb

Governors across the West are asking for federal support to ensure that wildfire restoration becomes a priority, just like wildfire suppression and mitigation efforts.

States only have a few weeks left to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds, which is spurring lawmakers around the Mountain West to pass major aid deals now.


On Dec. 10, the first COVID-19 vaccine will be evaluated by a Food and Drug Administration advisory group, made of external vaccine experts. They'll say - in a public meeting - whether they think the FDA should give emergency use authorization for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and why.


An illustration of a person's hand holding a cell phone displaying a virus like symbol with communication signals coming out
kebox / Adobe Stock

COVID-19 contact tracers continue to be in short supply. That’s especially true for bilingual ones.

Despite a drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases across the Mountain West last week, public health officials are warning folks not to breathe a sigh of relief.

"Here [in Utah] a lot of the facilities that were doing testing were closed completely on Thanksgiving," said Utah Department of Health spokesperson Charla Haley. "I think that had a big impact on the smaller numbers of people testing positive as well as people just being tested in general."


When Willow Belden goes holiday shopping she likes to support local businesses. This year, though, it's meant calling stores and asking, "Are you guys wearing masks? But are you really wearing masks? And, like, what else are you doing?"

The Mountain West is facing a hospitalization crisis, and even states that cracked down early are feeling the effects of those that didn't.

In Washington State, the frustration is palpable.


An illustration of different medical professionals.
elenabsl / Adobe Stock

Nevada recently hosted its annual rural health conference, with a particular focus on infrastructure as COVID-19 continues to ravage rural America.

Amid America’s racial reckoning spurred by the killing of George Floyd, a number of controversial historical monuments were torn down by protesters or removed by authorities this year, including some in the Mountain West.

As the pandemic surges across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday advised against families and friends gathering for Thanksgiving. But there is one potentially safe way to see relatives and celebrate the holiday – camping.

The vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Moderna may be easier to distribute in the rural West, according to regional public health experts.

It can survive up to a month in a freezer, is shipped in small doses, and it doesn't need a special, ultra-cold freezer to survive – unlike the vaccine developed by the company Pfizer.


Hospitals continue to fill up across the Mountain West, and that means some patients may have nowhere to go.


The Interior Department is facing criticism for putting up barriers to conservation projects nationwide funded through the new Great American Outdoors Act.

Park visitors gather to watch the sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
National Park Service

Allegations of negligence are part of a $270 million wrongful death claim against the National Park Service after an accident in Utah’s Arches National Park earlier this year.

Back in 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey and several Western states formed the Corridor Mapping Team, a first-of-its-kind collaboration among state and federal wildlife biologists to map ungulate migrations.

Last week, the team published its first volume of maps, which document more than 40 big-game migration routes in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

Democrats once again lost ground in much of the rural West. That includes Montana, where Republicans swept the election for the first time in at least two decades. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will soon be the lone progressive holding federal office in the state. He's also the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate and author of a new book, Grounded: A Senator's Lessons On Winning Back Rural America. He spoke about lessons learned from November's election with reporter Nate Hegyi of the Mountain West News Bureau.

Going to a bar tonight in Boise, Idaho or Reno, Nev.?

There's about a 50-50 chance someone carrying COVID-19 will be there too.

 


As hospitals around the Mountain West run out of space, some patients are fleeing to states that have more health mandates, which further burdens states that have been more aggressive in fighting COVID-19.


President-elect Joe Biden wants to move the U.S. away from fossil fuel development, but he will face some challenges.

  

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