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Local health officials preparing for potential coronavirus outbreak

By Carla O'Day
Published: Last Updated on

The Washoe County Health District is working with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and local partners to make sure the area is prepared for COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, if it is confirmed in the area.

No confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been found in Washoe County or in Nevada as of Feb. 28.

The virus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. It has sickened more than 80,000 people worldwide and is responsible for almost 3,000 deaths. About 60 cases have been confirmed in the United States.

The health district has been completing risk assessments with residents who traveled to areas that have widespread transmission, have had direct contact with someone who has been suspected or confirmed to have the virus, and have had severe illness requiring hospitalization for a viral respiratory disease that has no other known cause.

There are two plans – isolation and quarantine plan and pandemic flu plan, which are being adjusted to COVID-19, according to the health district.

The health district set up a web page to help the public identify risk factors, learn about how the virus spreads, and symptoms to watch for. Information for businesses and employers, travelers and medical professionals is also available:

Kevin Dick
Kevin Dick, Washoe County Health District.

“The Washoe County Health District is working hard to protect residents from COVID-19 and to make sure we’re prepared,” district health officer Kevin Dick said in a statement. “Our hope is we don’t have a resident contract the virus; however, our staff is working diligently with the CDC and our local partners to do whatever we can to prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 appearing in our community.”

District Board of Health Chairman John Novak was in Washington D.C. this week speaking to Nevada’s delegation about financial support to Washoe County.

“Nevada’s representation in Washington D.C. is well aware of the issues we’re facing,” Novak said in a statement. “Having this level of communication with our congressional representatives and the local jurisdictions puts us in the best possible spot to protect Washoe County residents from this disease.”

The Washoe County School District also put out a statement this week, addressing the community’s concerns about a possible coronavirus outbreak. It said its Student Health Services division is working with the Washoe County Health District, State of Nevada, and federal health officials to determine the best course of action to protect students and staff while ensuring the educational needs of students are being met.

“We are relying on health experts to provide us with guidance going forward, and depending upon the direction we receive, we will adapt our approach as necessary,” the school district said in a letter to families this week. “We can assure you that we are taking all necessary steps to gather information, following guidelines set forth by health officials, and that we will convey this information to our families and our community through the media, online, and through direct communication with our families.”

School officials are also telling families to keep ill children at home and for sick staff members to stay home.

This Is Reno’s COVID-19 news coverage

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