Novel Coronavirus

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

10:08 p.m. | May 12, 2020

Washoe Co. Reports 40th COVID-19 Death Tuesday

By Bree Zender

An image of a firefighter fighting a wildfire
Colorado's West Metro Fire Protection District

As the pandemic decimates local budgets across the Mountain West, another threat looms large at local fire stations across the region: wildfires. That has lawmakers and firefighters demanding more federal support.

America is starting its engines again.

Freeways and city streets have been remarkably empty for weeks. The coronavirus pandemic caused an unprecedented drop in U.S. traffic — total miles driven dropped by more than 40% in the last two weeks of March, according to data collected by Arity.

In some states, mileage eventually dropped more than 60% below what would be expected without a pandemic.

But for several weeks now, the same data shows that miles driven are starting to climb again. Driving remains well below normal levels, but is rising consistently.

Noxious gas, rolling giant eyeballs, being trapped in a perpetually falling elevator. The pandemic is sparking a world-wide increase in vivid dreams. And people are sharing them on websites like I Dream of COVID and across social media.

Empty apartment. Vacuum sits in the far room.
Patrick Maloney / Flickr Creative Commons

Housing prices have been rising for years in the Truckee Meadows. And as the pandemic touches nearly every aspect of life as we know it, it’s also affecting rental prices. KUNR’s Bree Zender spoke with Susy Vasquez, the executive director of the Nevada State Apartment Association, which represents rental property owners in the state.

A scientist wearing white protective gear holds up an anesthetized fruit bat.
Courtesy of the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal

Online movie rentals of “Contagion” and fictional outbreak dramas have climbed up in recent weeks. Apparently many people trapped in their homes want to see fictionalized — and sometimes realistic —  outbreaks while they wait out the COVID-19 pandemic.


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

Public health officials are using contact tracing to track and isolate people infected with COVID-19 or those who might have been exposed. This is a routine public health surveillance tool that can be effective for infectious disease control, but the workforce needs to ramp up in order to respond to the coronavirus. In this report, KUNR's Anh Gray and Lucia Starbuck team up to explore the challenges with contact tracing and how the Nevada National Guard will be stepping in to fill some gaps. 

A screenshot of speakers who participated in the first-ever Spanish-language town hall with the COVID-19 Regional Information Center.
Screenshot / City of Reno

Lee en español. 

The COVID-19 Regional Information Center held its first-ever online event in Spanish to share advice and resources regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Funcionarios del Condado de Washoe usan YouTube para comunicarse con la comunidad Latina en español sobre los impactos del coronavirus en la región. Captura de pantalla por Natalie Van Hoozer.
Screenshot / La Ciudad de Reno

Read in English. 

El Centro de información regional organizó su primer evento en línea en español para compartir consejos sobre la pandemia del coronavirus. 

An image of a large truck used for mining, standing ten times taller than the person next to it.
Nevada STEM Hub

Every state is wrestling with the tension between reopening economies and protecting communities from COVID-19. Some industries have remained open all along. There are the obvious ones, like grocery stores and hospitals. Then there are others, like mining.

Woman with a microphone speaking outdoors
Bree Zender / KUNR

Last month, President Donald Trump assembled a bipartisan group, made up of members of the U.S. Congress, to advise on how to reopen the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Democrat from Nevada, is a member of this group and spoke with KUNR's Bree Zender about her work on the task force.

Months into the spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States, widespread diagnostic testing still isn't available. California offers a sobering view of the dysfunction blocking the way nationally.

It's hard to overstate how uneven the access to critical test kits remains in the nation's largest state. Even as some Southern California counties are opening drive-through sites to make testing available to any resident who wants it, a rural northern county is testing raw sewage to determine whether the coronavirus has infiltrated its communities.

Man smiling on a crowded street
Courtesy of Ish Bermudez

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.

In early March, Nevadan make-up artist Ish Bermudez was touring with the show Chippendales Las Vegas across the country as a wardrobe manager. He began not feeling well while he was still on the road traveling in New York, Ohio and Indiana. He sought care at an urgent care facility, where he was given some pain medication, but a COVID-19 test wasn’t available.

This week the governors of Colorado and Nevada joined West Coast states in something called the Western States Pact. Its stated aim is to bring together states with a “shared vision for modifying stay at home orders and fighting COVID-19.” 

The U.S. now has at least three such regional collaborations. 

Libraries across the Mountain West may be closed, but that doesn't mean librarians are idle. 

Many libraries these days have 3D printers. And that means anyone with a blueprint and the right ingredients can become mini manufacturers of, say, plastic face shields. 

Bilingual graphic in English and Spanish promoting the Spanish-language town hall on May 1, 2020 at 1 p.m.
City of Reno

Lee en español.

The City of Reno will host a virtual town hall in Spanish, with subtitles in English, to answer questions from the community about health, business, public safety and education. 

Una gráfica promoviendo la reunión virtual en español de la Ciudad de Reno el 1 de mayo de 2020.
Ciudad de Reno

Read in English. 

La Ciudad de Reno ha organizado una charla virtual en español, con subtítulos en inglés, para responder a las preguntas de la comunidad sobre la salud, negocios, seguridad pública y educación. 

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Many big cities are seeing the number of COVID-19 cases fall, but rural counties are seeing the opposite, according to a new analysis by the Daily Yonder, a rural nonprofit news outlet.


Elder holding a phone.
DMCA / Pxfuel

In pandemic times, we’re all forced into our singular places, whether we enjoy being there or not. That can mean so many different outcomes for us as humans. For elders, who often face a greater risk of the effects of COVID-19, a prolonged period of social isolation can be tough.