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Officials warn Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter has shifted to red, “very high” risk

By Jeri Chadwell
coronavirus testing

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As the community heads into the Nevada Day weekend and prepares to celebrate Halloween and Día de Los Muertos, officials are warning that the risk of COVID-19 has become very high.

City of Reno officials issued a press release today warning that the Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter has shifted to red, or ‘Very High,’ for the first time since the Risk Meter was introduced to the public in early September.

This means the COVID-19 risk to the community is approaching critical.

Officials are urging Washoe County residents to leave their homes only for essential functions like voting, working, seeing a doctor, visiting the pharmacy or buying groceries.

Residents are being urged to avoid even small gatherings with people outside of their immediate family members and to consistently wear masks outside of the home, avoid at-risk people, and avoid even small social gatherings with non-family members.

The Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter provides a daily overview of risk factors for spread of the virus. The five metrics used to determine the risk level are the number of people seeking testing, the number of positive cases in the community, the number of new daily cases per 100,000 people, the number of medical interventions due to COVID-19 and area hospital capacity.

“This week, we are seeing alarming trends in Nevada and across the United States.”

Threat levels are determined by assigning each metric a score between zero and three and adding these scores together. Today’s very high risk rating is a result of an overall risk score of 9.5 resulting from a score of two on risk assessments, a two on test positivity, a three on daily new cases, a 1.5 on medical interventions and a one on hospital capacity.

According to officials, the main factors that caused the meter to shift to red today are an increase in those seeking COVID-19 testing and an increasing trend in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infections.

Daily new cases of COVID-19 also remain high. The Regional Information Center reported 248 new COVID-19 cases on October 29, and the seven-day moving average for new COVID-19 cases per day in Washoe County is at 197.7, a new record high.

“About a month ago, Nevada was doing pretty well. This week, we are seeing alarming trends in Nevada and across the United States,” said Caleb Cage, State of Nevada COVID-19 response director.

News of the elevated risk level comes one day after Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak met with Washoe County officials, including school board Superintendent Kristen McNeill to discuss the elevated spread of COVID-19 in the county.

Washoe County has been classified as a high risk COVID-19 area by the governor’s COVID-19 task force for the past five weeks. Sisolak has made it clear that increasing COVID-19 trends could result in renewed restrictions on gatherings and business operations.

Since businesses have been allowed to reopen, Washoe County residents have begun increasingly frequenting restaurants, bars and other crowded spaces. An initial surge in cases was linked by officials to the 20 to 29-year-old age groups, whom Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick has said do not “live in a bubble,” resulting in greater spread to other age groups in the community.

During a Wednesday COVID-19 briefing, Dick said, “We need to decide what we want for our community. We have to make a choice: do we want to continue to have our schools open? Do we want to continue to have our businesses open? And if the answer is yes, then we all need to be part of the solution of preventing the spread of COVID-19 with the personal actions we take.”

Beginning Nov. 5, public gatherings in the county–both indoors and out–will again be limited to no more than 50 people in Washoe County. That’s down from 250.

More information about the Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter is available at covidriskmeter.org.

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