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Health District prefers testing over new CDC guidelines

By Sudhiti Naskar
Nevada National Guard personnel assist Washoe County Health District with COVID-19 sample collection.

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Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick said today that the county will continue to do COVID-19 testing following the advice of the State. 

A press release by Nevada Health Response made it clear that it “strongly recommend[s] testing for all individuals – symptomatic or asymptomatic – who have been in contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.”

The advice comes on the heels of new guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising that some asymptomatic people need not be tested. 

Additionally, a new program funded by local business Sierra Nevada Corporation provides free testing for Washoe County School District staff, their families and students. The tests will be done at Renown. 

Drive-through testing centers: hassle-free, but call ahead

Owing to technical maintenance, automated scheduling for testing at the drive-through centers is likely to slow down for a short period of time. 

If someone needs to get tested urgently, they are advised to schedule by Friday, Aug. 28 before 3 p.m. After Friday, the district will revert to a manual system. 

Dick said that the helpline number, 775-328-2427, will stay active and staff can help individuals to “do the risk assessment and to get scheduled for testing.”

“We will have additional staffing on board over the weekend for the people seeking testing,” he said. 

Dick said demand at the drive-through post has declined. He assured people of the county “there should be no anxiety about coming to our drive-through posting. We ask no question about your health insurance or immigration status. It’s a very easy and streamlined process.”

Testing is offered next week on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

New contact tracing app

Nevada has launched COVID Trace, a digital contact tracing app that is expected to aid the contact tracing efforts by the health teams. According to Dick, the app will “notify you if one of the persons you came into contact with has been tested COVID positive.” 

It is a free app and is available at Nevada Health Response page and can be found on the iOS App Store and Google Play

According to Dick, the app would aid contact tracing and disease investigation efforts by eliminating human errors. 

Contact tracing efforts have unearthed that people do not always remember who they came in contact with. “So, if you were one of those people who couldn’t remember, you would be able to find out if you were in close contact with an [infected] person,” Dick said. 

“Or, if you were in a setting with a number of people…that they may not know you and you may not know them, it would also provide [you] with the information that you have been near an infected person.” 

According to Dick, such precise information the health teams “wouldn’t discover through a disease investigation.”

There have been some concerns on how much personal data the app might collect. Dick said that based on the information available to him, privacy concerns were addressed by the State before releasing the app.

Officials still urge caution

In his usual cautionary manner, Dick said, “I wanted to emphasize that we are continuing to remain at a high level of disease transmission in Washoe County. Our 7-day rolling average case per day is about 72. It’s been remaining above 70. This is a cause for concern.”

He urged people to stay vigilant against COVID-19 to “go downward rather than flattening and causing a potential higher peak in the coming days.”

Numbers at-a-glance:

Total COVID-19 cases in Washoe County: 6,951 (+47 from 8/25)

  • Deaths: 133 (+0)
  • Recovered: 5,684 (+84)
  • Active Cases: 1,134 (-37)
  • Tests performed: 107,284 (+843)

Hospital bed and ventilator information available at Nevada Hospital Association as of Aug. 25

  • 64% of licensed hospital beds are occupied (+2% since 8/15)
  • 48 Confirmed COVID-19 cases (-1since 8/15)
  • 20 (+3 since 8/15) confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Unit beds
  • 32 (17%) of all ventilators are in use (+5% since 8/15)

Read more news about COVID-19 in Reno

UNR reports 135 COVID-19 cases

The University of Nevada, Reno on Sept. 4 reported its highest COVID-19 new case count yet: 24 students, faculty and staff.

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