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COVID-19 UPDATE: Stay vigilant over the Labor Day weekend

By Sudhiti Naskar
Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick speaks at a COVID-19 press conference in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic. Image: Trevor Bexon

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Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick reached out to the county today acknowledging many Nevadans are looking forward to the Labor Day weekend. 

This is a well-timed reminder considering the months-long COVID-19 mitigation efforts are tiring people out and patience is running thin even among those who follow all of the health measures to keep themselves and their communities safe. 

“With Labor Day weekend coming it’s very important for people to understand that we still have this situation, we still need to make sure that we are wearing masks, that we are social-distancing, that we are avoiding large gatherings,” he said.

COVID-19 cases continue to be diagnosed, and 140 in Washoe County have died from the disease.

“This week’s seven-day rolling average is about 60, as per the data received yesterday,” said Dick. 

This number is down from 72 last week. However, the governor’s county-tracking system is recognizing that average as “elevated levels of disease,” he added.

He also reminded people that following the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays there were spikes in the total number of cases due to people getting together at celebratory events. 

Anticipating large gatherings such as backyard barbecues, Dick urged people to consider that “Labor Day is for recognizing our workers…to support our workers, we need to have low levels of disease transmission so we can have businesses open and workers back to work, able to make a living and be able to take care of their families.” 

“So, we all need to pitch in for this Labor Day,” he said. “I would recommend not to have a gathering. If you do, please plan very carefully for that so that you can retain the social-distancing. Don’t have more than 10 people get together and don’t let down your guard.” 

Area educators are concerned about cases of COVID-19 in schools. Image: Eric Marks

He also reminded people that Washoe County is on the sixth month since its first COVID infection. “Our first case happened on March 5. September 5, this Saturday, we will be completing the six months timeline.” 

Based on the infection rate and number of new COVID cases being reported as the area’s schools, colleges and universities have reopened, Dick said the health district anticipated such outcomes. “We are seeing what we expected to see,” he said.

In late July Dick said that students should not be returning to area schools this fall. The Washoe County School District opted to move ahead with a choice for in-person learning, which began Aug. 17. To-date, Dick said there have been no documented cases of transmission within the schools, despite a number of students and staff diagnosed within the district.

He also said that “the bars are remaining closed under the direction of the task force. And the concern that the task force has is that we are still exceeding the levels for elevated disease transmission.” 

“The decision is unlikely to change as long as the numbers remain above the risk threshold,” he added.

Testing posts 

WCHD is operating its testing post at the Livestock Events Center and the test results are also coming in time with the help of Charles River, a local lab. The post will remain open through Friday this week and will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, for Labor Day.        

Numbers at-a-glance

Total COVID-19 cases in Washoe County: 7,371 (+45 from 9/1). This is +420 from 8/26. 

Deaths: 140 (+1)

Recovered: 6,219 (+52)

Active Cases: 1,012 (-8)

Tests performed: 111,641 (+697 since 9/1)

Hospital bed and ventilator information available at Nevada Hospital Association as of Sept. 2

  • 63 percent of all staffed short-term, acute-care hospital beds are occupied (-1% since 9/1)
  • 52 Confirmed COVID-19 cases
  • 41 percent of the all Intensive Care Unit beds are occupied (-1%)
  • 24 percent of all ventilators are in use (-2%)

2020 National Preparedness Month 

At the press briefing the health officer was joined by Aaron Kenneston, Washoe County Emergency Manager, who alerted people about some of the hazards such as wildfires, earthquakes and flooding typical to the region. He announced National Preparedness Month 2020, which commemorates the safety of American people to “reflect on the importance of mitigating the effects of disasters and tragedies.”

He requested people to make a plan for such emergency situations. The plan may include basic fixes like ensuring a stock of dust masks, first-aid and medications, and flashlight, and making sure the batteries are charged when daylight savings happens.

In the case of an emergency people can get in touch with Washoe County’s emergency alert program by texting “Washoe” to 99411. 

Read more news about COVID-19 in Reno


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