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Washoe County records 100 cases per day, many experiencing “COVID fatigue”

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 said the county is faced with a high number of active cases during this week’s COVID update. There are 1,423 (+94) active COVID cases as of Wednesday.

“We are on an elevated disease transmission level,” he said. “Our seven-day moving average is 100 cases per day. We had four days last week where we had an excess of reported 100 cases per day.”

The numbers released by the county indicate that the curves presented by elevated disease transmission have not flattened.

“We keep building up to new plateaus,” Dick noted. “We are continuing to have “active spread in the community. We have cases that are occurring at the workplaces, we are continuing to see cases occurring from parties, household gatherings, weddings, etc.”

The health district also acknowledged a delay in disease investigation because of the high number of cases and delays in identifying the close contacts and advising them to quarantine.

“I know everybody is tired of it,” said Dick. He added that the people of Washoe County are feeling “COVID fatigue” as the disease hasn’t let up, even after more than seven months. “People want things to be back to normal and, unfortunately, [it] doesn’t look like we are going to be normal for a while.”

Echoing the sentiments of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said Americans need to double down on disease prevention, Dick said that people in Washoe County also need to “hunker down to reduce the spread of the disease in the community.” 

“We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy,” Fauci said on Sept. 10. “Don’t ever ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic.”

Rules on gatherings 

The county’s decision to not allow gatherings of 250 or more has been criticized by some in the community. Dick explained that opening up, though, is desirable but the county is not in a position to allow that yet.

“We have been flagged for three weeks in a row” by the governor’s county tracking system for high disease transmission, he said. “It’s unwise of us to fling open the gates” and allow larger gatherings.

But, he added that on a case-by-case basis, some large gatherings may get the green light from the district provided they submit a detailed COVID plan for approval. The district will also keep a tab on large gatherings happening elsewhere; based on the findings it will make future decisions on large gatherings.

Dick reminded the county that to bring back the economy, everyone will have to wear a mask, be socially distant and maintain hygiene. This will also help to suppress the disease.

He regretted that people are not following these measures and the county has not been able to control the spread. Essentially, when people are having gatherings, running errands or at their workplace, “there’s the risk of transmission because we have so many cases in the community that are occurring right now,” Dick noted.

A station at Washoe County's drive-through testing site at the Reno Livestock Events Center. Image: Eric Marks
A station at Washoe County’s drive-through testing site at the Reno Livestock Events Center. Image: Eric Marks

No-shows at testing site

Dick said many people are scheduling free testing at the Reno Livestock Events Center and are failing to turn up.

“We have been experiencing a high number of no-shows…We had 120 no-shows in the last two weeks,” said Dick. This is about 18% of the total number of people who booked testing.

Anyone needing a COVID test may visit the website and take the risk-assessment. They may also call 775-328-2427 to make an appointment to access free testing at the Center. Patients are not questioned on their insurance or immigration status.

“So we are really requesting people to cancel through the online platform if you are not going to show up. Or give us a call at 328-2427. That way we can make your slot [available] for somebody else to get tested sooner,” said Dick.

Numbers at-a-glance

  • Total COVID-19 cases in Washoe County: 10,984 (+178 from 10/13)
  • Deaths: 180 (+3) up from 167 (+2) last week
  • Recovered:  9,381 (+81) up from 8,827 (+119) last week
  • Active Cases: 1,423 (+94)
  • Tests performed: 159,367 (+1,912)

According to the Nevada Hospital Association, in Washoe County as of October 14:

  • 68% of all staffed short-term, acute-care hospital beds are occupied (+3% since 10/13)
  • 44% of the all Intensive Care Unit beds are occupied (-1%)
  • 22% of all ventilators are in use (+0%)

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

Read more news about COVID-19 in Reno

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