The Hitchcock Project | KUNR

The Hitchcock Project

A digital illustration of DNA sequences. They are colored red and blue.
SHELLY SUH / THE HITCHCOCK PROJECT

Lawmakers in Nevada are considering a bipartisan bill, Senate Bill 251, which would require primary care clinicians to inform their female patients about the option to screen for harmful genetic mutations that increase the risk for cancer. The bill would put federal recommendations regarding access to genetic screenings into state law.

A large pile of trash in the desert outside of North Las Vegas.
Nathaniel Holmes / BLM

It’s easy to throw away everyday household waste, but what happens when broken appliances, old furniture or even hazardous waste need to be removed?

Bret Frey is a man who is wearing a face mask and sitting in his car. Through the window, a health worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine into his arm.
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio

About one out of five Nevadans have been fully vaccinated from COVID-19, and nearly a third of the state’s population has received the first dose. It will take many more shots before the state reaches herd immunity — when the population gains protection through vaccination or natural immunity.

To learn more about this, KUNR’s Emilie Rodriguez spoke with Brian Labus, an epidemiologist with Nevada’s COVID-19 medical advisory team.

A grove of pinyon-juniper trees with a mountain range in the background.
Wikimedia Commons

Pinyon-juniper woodlands stretch across much of the high desert in the American West. While quiet on the outside, this forest is at the heart of contentious debate between environmentalists, tribes and the federal government.

While these woodlands cover millions of desert acres, they are still among the least studied forest types in North America, according to the National Park Service.

Dry and cracked soil covering a large span of sparingly bushed landscape.
Famartin

Nevada had its driest year on record in 2020, according to the National Center for Environmental Information, and recent trends point to it continuing to get drier. Currently, all of Nevada is in drought, with over 72% of the state’s land experiencing “extreme drought conditions,” according to Drought.gov. Desert Research Institute Assistant Research Professor and Climatologist Dan McEvoy says our conditions in the summer months are dependent on the precipitation our area gets in the winter.

A Nevada Guard Airman is leaning towards an open driver side windshield.
Nevada National Guard / Flickr

Of all the people tested for COVID-19 in Nevada in early February, 11.8% tested positive for COVID-19.

Jet is sitting on a stool and is drinking from his cup while working on his online school work.
Courtesy of Chandra Watkins

Face coverings, distance learning and barren playgrounds. This is the “new normal” for the education system, and for students with special needs, remote learning presents unique challenges. Students with autism learn and adapt in different ways from other children, so during the COVID-19 pandemic, the education of students with autism has been disrupted – and not only their educational routine but also their at-home routine, which could go something like this:

Boxes with papers inside them line a fence outside of Glenshire Elementary School.
Molly Carnell / The Hitchcock Project

Every day before school, Stephanie Bacon wakes up hopeful and excited that she has put together a lesson plan that she believes will work for her students to engage and learn. Yet every day, she leaves feeling like all of her effort went nowhere. 

Scientists in a UNR lab working on SARS-CoV-2 research.
Brin Reynolds

As COVID-19 deaths surpass 225,000 in the United States, UNR researchers have found some clues as to why the virus that causes COVID-19 is so contagious — and they’re discovering that it is mutating quickly. The researchers have studied the genetics of more than 8,650 samples of the virus SARS-CoV-2, collected from infected people all over Nevada.

Truckee Meadows Fire and Rescue Truck
Scott King

This story was originally published to the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science's website on August 22, 2020.

California is blazing with three of the largest wildfires in the state’s history, with much of the state facing smoke-filled skies and evacuation orders. In just seven days, the fires have charred nearly a million acres, according to Cal Fire, which is more than triple the area burned during a typical fire season (a little over 300,000 acres). In the Tahoe region and the Great Basin, firefighters are already exhausted as they gear up for more potential fires during a dry fall.

Aerial shot of a desert mountain.
Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy

The landscape appears arid. Yet, water flows at the heart of the controversy about a federal plan to build a national nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in southwestern Nevada. A new scientific paper concludes water is moving through the mountain much faster than researchers previously had suspected. This may increase the possibility that groundwater in the region could become contaminated with radioactive elements.

Law enforcement standing by on Virginia Street. Rioters running in different directions as tear gas fills the street.
Ty O'Neil / This Is Reno

As a warning, this story includes graphic images and videos containing violence that may be disturbing, along with inappropriate language.

Organizers of the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday afternoon in Reno have denounced the violence that took place later that evening after the peaceful protest had ended. 

Lucia Starbuck was on the scene reporting for This Is Reno, and witnessed the events that unfolded at City Hall. She recounted what she saw with KUNR’s Anh Gray.

Two men wearing hard hats are lifting a rectangular panel onto a roof outside.
Tessa Hartman / Simple Power Solar

After more than a decade of growth, Nevada’s fast-growing renewable energy sector faces storm clouds. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has cost the sector thousands of jobs, is delaying projects large and small, and in many areas is killing sales. But Nevada enjoys the sunniest skies in the nation, the momentum of a decade-long boom in projects and a state government pushing for more. Officials said Nevada will weather the current turbulence and meet its new standard to source half its electricity from renewables by 2030. And already, some local solar panel installers report a rebound in activity.

Soldiers of the Nevada National Guard don personal protective equipment to help with drive-through COVID-19 testing.
Nevada National Guard

Coverage of novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

The deployment of the Nevada National Guard is being extended until mid-August to help with COVID-19 relief efforts. 

A woman standing behind a podium that reads NV Energy. Behind her is a green EV charging station with two cords and reads Terrible's.
Courtesy NV Energy

While sales of electric vehicles globally are expected to decline this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the installation of charging stations in Nevada is expected to continue growing, pushed by $15 million in utility incentives and support from the state.

A quote by Lori Smetanka explaining how "The stories we're hearing directly from residents and families keeps me up at night. The fear among them about how to protect themselves."
KUNR

Coverage of novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

Arbors Memory Care in Sparks is a long-term care facility for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It was the site of Washoe County’s recent COVID-19 outbreak. Thirty-eight people have been confirmed and three residents have died. 

Fourteen large wind turbines spin at the Spring Valley Wind facility near Ely, Nevada.
Jeff Moser / Creative Commons

Nevada is a big player in renewable energy. But while it ranks among the top five states for both solar and geothermal energy production, it lags well behind in wind energy production, where it falls 33rd. This fact surprised KUNR's Benjamin Payne, who last year moved to Reno from his native Illinois. Whereas that state boasts more than 50 wind farms, Nevada has only one. He decided to look into this gap, and figure out why wind makes up such a small sliver of Nevada’s energy mix.

There's a sign near a sidewalk that says, 'Lakeside,' and there's grass and trees in the background.
Screenshot / Google Maps

Coverage of novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected those living in long-term care facilities nationwide. In most states, at least a third of deaths are in those hotspots. And in Washoe County, the deaths associated at these centers account for more than half of the 48 total deaths so far.

KUNR’s Anh Gray reports that the pandemic exposes some particular vulnerabilities for older adults.

Dozens of large, yellow lithium-ion batteries are bolted together. They are being charged by solar power.
Yo-Co-Man / Creative Commons

Despite all the favorable conditions and high demand for solar power in Nevada, there are challenges.

There's the COVID-19 pandemic, which is likely to stall or even cancel some solar projects that are under development, according to federal energy projections. There's a more fundamental problem as well, though: the sun doesn't always shine. That's why more battery storage is needed to capture and store solar when the sun is up, so utilities have enough to deliver when the sun is down.

But one Nevada solar plant has found another solution. KUNR's Benjamin Payne has the story.

A photo collage of UNR Med School graduating students wearing their academic regalia.
Lauren Siri / UNR Med

Coverage of novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

A hooding ceremony is a celebratory event steeped in tradition. For medical students, it’s the culmination of years of hard work. As a result of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine held a virtual hooding for the 63 members of the 2020 graduating class. The pride, hope and joy conferred on graduates were still on full display on the screen.

Pages