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COVID-19 Update: There may not be an “influx,” district to propose reopening of bars


The Washoe County Health District does not expect to see an “influx” of COVID-19 cases after the Labor Day weekend as of now, said District Health Officer Kevin Dick. But he reminded the county that the results will be clear in a few weeks, which is the incubation period of the virus. 

Dick sounded hopeful overall about the slightly low rates of infection and thanked the people of Washoe County for following health measures like wearing masks, staying socially distant and washing hands. 

This week the “seven-day rolling average is at 66,” Dick said. “That’s slightly over the past week (60, last week), but well below the peak that we saw in the end of July,” which was 72 on a seven-day rolling average. 

These are encouraging results, Dick added and urged Washoe County to “try to work together to drive down the disease transmission, to keep our economy, our university and school district open.”

COVID-19 cases continue to be diagnosed, and 147 in Washoe County have died from the disease.

Will the bars reopen? 

A sign in the window of Shea’s Tavern to reopen bars. Image: Jeri Davis

Staff from the health district will meet the governor’s task force tomorrow at noon to discuss a possible safe reopening of area bars. 

“We will be submitting an updated assessment plan today for that meeting. The bar reopenings would be one of the topics in that meeting,” he said.  

A bar and taproom coalition in the county is lobbying to safely reopen bars, and Dick said that there are some benefits of reopening commercial places, such as bars, as far as they help people socialize safely in a regulated environment. 

“We do believe there are some benefits to that and avoiding the spread of the disease as opposed to people meeting at private gatherings at people’s homes,” he explained. “So we are working with the task force members to find an approach that’s acceptable to be able to do that in a safe and responsible manner in Washoe County.”

Discussion on SB4, which may help bar reopenings

The district also has a special meeting with the Nevada Board of Health on Thursday at 2 p.m. to discuss implementation of Senate Bill 4, “which establishes the liability protection for businesses and also creates a compliance and enforcement program for large resort properties and other public accommodations,” Dick said. 

SB 4 decentralizes COVID-19 related measures to be taken by health administrators and provides instructions on how small counties, cities and towns with a population of 100,000 and more can create a health district. Section 14 of the bill requires the director of the health district to prohibit a “public accommodation,”  an employer in this case, “from retaliating against an employee for [following the health measures]” or “seeking enforcement” of those measures. 

The bill was passed in August by the Nevada Legislature during the 32nd Special Session and signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak to provide some protections to local businesses from lawsuits. The argument behind the safeguard is that this will bolster the state’s economy, diminished by the pandemic. 

Dick also pointed out that the county will need to urgently adopt the SB4-empowered provisions “for the health district to be able to enforce compliance and regulations activities.”

“The state Department of Health and Human Services adopted the regulations as they were required to…on Aug. 31,. and we have a short time frame that we need to establish regulations here,” he said. “So, that’s the purpose of the meeting tomorrow: to ratify the regulations that the state has adopted to be able to accept the funding that also comes along with that [which] covers our costs through the end of the year.”

Trump campaign will have similar restrictions as all other public gatherings

Earlier in the day it was reported that President Trump’s planned rally in Reno had been canceled, with campaign organizers blaming Gov. Sisolak’s restrictions on gathering size for the cancellation.

Dick explained that following Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directives and mandate on public gatherings, there will be restrictions on a gathering of over 50 people to prevent the spread of disease. 

“We know that there have been rally events in other cities where the disease transmission has been traced back to the people that attended those events. So, I think it’s important that we maintain the limitations on the gatherings at this point…By not allowing those large gatherings, we are really protecting our citizens. We are protecting our economy, [the] ability to keep businesses open,” Dick said. 


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 tests are free.       

Numbers at-a-glance

Total COVID-19 cases in Washoe County: 7,827 (+40 from 9/8) 

  • Deaths: 147 (+0)
  • Recovered: 6,534 (+58)
  • Active Cases: 1,146 (-18)
  • Tests performed: 118,362 (+302)

Hospital bed and ventilator information available at Nevada Hospital Association as of Sept. 9

  • 61% of all staffed short-term, acute-care hospital beds are occupied (+0% since 9/8)
  • 40% of the all Intensive Care Unit beds are occupied (+1%)
  • 20% of all ventilators are in use (+1%)

NOTE: Numbers are for all hospital patients in Washoe County and not just COVID-19 patients.

Sudhiti Naskar
Sudhiti Naskar
Sudhiti (Shu) Naskar is a multimedia journalist and researcher who has years of experience covering international issues. In the role of a journalist, she has covered gender, culture, society, environment, and economy. Her works have appeared on BBC, The National, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Reno Gazette-Journal, Caravan and more. Her interests lie in the intersection of art, politics, social justice, education, tech, and culture. She took a sabbatical from media to attend graduate school at the University of Nevada Reno in 2017. In this period, she has won awards, represented her school at an international conference and successfully defended her thesis on political disinformation at the Reynolds School of Journalism where she earned her Master's in Media Innovation.