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Health district starting drive-through COVID-19 testing

By Carla O'Day

Feature Image: Trevor Bexon

The Washoe County Health District announced Monday it plans to start drive-though testing for coronavirus for certain individuals.

Health officer Kevin Dick said people exhibiting symptoms are asked to avoid the emergency room and to call the health district at 775-328-2427. Staff will then assess their situations and let them know when and where to show up.

“It’s not just opened to the public to show up and get tested,” Dick said.

Also known as COVID-19, coronavirus is a respiratory virus identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late December. Symptoms include fever, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Some people can be asymptomatic.

Recommendations for testing from physicians are also being accepted, Dick said. Tests will be taken outdoors and delivered to the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory.

Kevin Dick
Kevin Dick reports to local media last week as COVID-19 began to appear in Washoe County. Image: Trevor Bexon

Washoe County has two “presumptive positive” cases of coronavirus. Test results from the state lab are sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for verification. Dick said the state lab is reliable, although the CDC is backlogged.

The first case locally was a man in his 50s diagnosed March 5. His condition was linked to the Grand Princess cruise ship outbreak. The second was a man in his 30s diagnosed March 8 after travel to Santa Clara, Calif. Both are self-quarantining at home, as are their family members, Dick said.

“We’re still in a situation where we are working to identify people we think are the highest risk of potential for COVID-19,” Dick said. “We’re working with them to have samples collected and have them tested so that we are preserving our lab capacity for those tests through the Nevada state health lab.”

Dick said Washoe County has an adequate supply of COVID-19 tests, but expects more from the CDC.

Eyes are currently on the Grand Princess cruise ship that’s scheduled to dock in Oakland today. Dick said 49 Nevada residents are on-board, although it wasn’t made clear how many of those live in Washoe County. Health officials have been in contact with local passengers, although Dick said none have been experiencing symptoms.

According the the health district, the best ways for people to reduce their risk of getting sick, and preventing COVID-19, are as follows: 

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, or tissue
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Try alternatives to shaking hands, such as an elbow bump
  • There is no recommendation to wear masks at this time to prevent yourself from getting sick
  • If possible, work from home

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