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Home > Featured > Health officials caution against gatherings, report 55 new COVID cases

Health officials caution against gatherings, report 55 new COVID cases

By Sudhiti Naskar
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield staff collect samples at a COVID-19 drive-through testing site at Reed High School June 23. Image: Lucia Starbuck

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Washoe County Health District reported 55 new COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 12. 

Among the three criteria to understand COVID-response requirements set by the State, Washoe County is logging in 440 cases per 100,000 over a 30-day period, the threshold being 200, said district health officer Kevin Dick, at a media briefing.

The second category is the test positivity rate. 

“Per 100,00 population, if you are over 50 then the positivity rate should be 7% or less, and Washoe County’s positivity rate is 8%,” Dick said.

The third category is testing. Washoe County is doing 243 tests per 100,000 per day, Dick said, “and meets the criteria of 150 per 100,000 as set by the State.”

COVID Testing and new partnerships 

The county is embarking on new partnerships to fast-track testing. 

“We have been working to expand our testing capacity and reached an agreement with Reno-based Charles River Labs working in partnership with the public health lab to develop testing capability of the molecular test for COVID-19,” Dick said. The testing will start at Charles River next week. 

This decision will “help take some of the load off of the public health lab,” Dick added, and ease some of the backlog accumulated at the public health labs.  “This will also help the turnaround time,” Dick said.

A specific warning

Eric Brown
Washoe County Manager Eric Brown

This week’s briefing comes with specific cautions and new information shedding light on the contagious nature of the virus.

Washoe County Manager Eric Brown reminded Nevadans that there is a mistaken understanding following “Gov Steve Sisolak’s announcement of reduced restrictions” on certain counties, that the threat has gone down. 

“The White House task force has begun color-coding counties around the country. Washoe County falls into the yellow category, which means we are not in the highest alert category like Clark County and others… nonetheless, we are not meeting the metrics threshold that we could,” Brown said. 

“My message to the public is we are still in a situation here in the county that our infection rates and our positivity rates are not going in the direction we like, and so we are focused on continuing to implement those things we think can help improve that. As we look at the source of the increased number of cases, we are not seeing any obvious driver of those. It’s not like any industry, or businesses or restaurant is driving the increases,” he explained. 

“Based on the evidence that we received from our contact tracing and investigations, that much of the infections seem to be occurring in private residences, private gatherings that are not commercial. So the message to the public is we still need to be responsible and social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding unnecessary gatherings, even in private residences, that might present an opportunity for this virus to continue to spread,” Brown added.

When asked whether there are medically proven facts regarding the relation between indoor and outdoor gatherings and COVID-19, Dick said, “Unfortunately, outbreaks are happening at both indoor and outdoor gatherings. We think that indoor settings would be worse because we have more of the confined space and less dilution of the air from mixing that occurs naturally, but be aware that we have seen spread and outbreaks occurring outdoors as well.” 

Dick pointed out that often “when people gather they let their guards down, and do not wear masks or socially distance; as a result, then we see spread and disease occurring from those gatherings.” 

Dick reiterated that the fight for recovery from COVID-19 is going to be “long” until there is a vaccine.   

Numbers at-a-glance: 

  • Total COVID-19 cases in Washoe County: 5,962 (+55)
  • Deaths: 124 (+3)
  • Recovered: 4,782 (+78)
  • Active Cases: 1,056 (-26)

Hospital bed and ventilator information available at Nevada Hospital Association as of Aug. 11

  • 63% of licensed hospital beds are occupied (+6% since 8/3)
  • 18 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients in Intensive Care Unit beds
  • 28 (13%) of all ventilators are in use

COVID-19 tests performed in Washoe County: 96,637 (+373)

Read more news about COVID-19 in Reno

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