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COVID-19: County reports increased hospitalizations and new cases

By Sudhiti Naskar

As the whole nation anticipates results for Election 2020, District Health Officer Kevin Dick asked people “not to lose sight of the critical issues,” which Washoe County continues to face with COVID-19.

The health district is reporting a seven-day-moving average of over 187 new cases per day, up from 158 new cases per day reported last week.

“We are still at an extremely high level of COVID-19,” Dick said.

The new numbers are a little below previously reported all-time high of 197 cases per day, but they still indicate a continuing trend of COVID-19 cases. The county has also been in the high-risk red zone for several weeks, prompting a task force meeting last Thursday to identify the problems and ramp up mitigation efforts.

As of Wednesday, the county is reporting a total of 203 deaths from COVID-19, which is up from 200 of deaths reported last week.

Limits on gatherings

Public gatherings will be limited to no more than 50 people, effective 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Dick added. Private indoor gatherings are limited to 10 or fewer people per the Governor’s COVID-19 directive.

The health district will not be responsible for enforcing the gathering limits, however, Dick explained. “It will probably be a complaint-driven type of response” with local jurisdictions.

Tests

Plans are underway to increase mobile testing in areas reporting higher numbers of active cases. The testing center at the Reno Livestock Events Center will continue to operate, but over the weekend it will move back to the east side of the Livestock Center in preparation for winter.

The east side is the sunny side of the property with a better drainage system and will provide for a better location for COVID-19 testing when temperatures drop.

An increase in hospitalizations

The county is also reporting an increase in hospitalizations because of the high number of new COVID-19 cases, the health officer said. Likewise, other health ailments are driving the increased numbers of hospitalizations.

A Wednesday afternoon press release by the Nevada Health Response team, which monitors state-wide disease situation and carries out the mitigation plans and management, noted that the COVID surge in northern Nevada, which includes Washoe County, remains stress-inducing for the region’s healthcare infrastructure.

Vaccine plan preparation

Dick said that the county is collaborating with the state to get a vaccine plan in place to “distribute it properly in the community,” when a vaccine becomes available.

Reflecting the state-wide plan announcement Oct. 26, the priority groups to receive vaccinations will be the first responders and hospital staff who have been working tirelessly during the pandemic and risking their own wellbeing.

Once the volume of available vaccines increases, it will be distributed within other groups in the community, Dick said.

Numbers at-a-glance

  • Total COVID-19 cases in Washoe County: 14,486, up from 13,090 last week
  • Deaths: 203, up from 196 last week
  • Recovered: 11,600, up from 10,765 last week
  • Active Cases: 2,683, up from 2,129 last week
  • Tests performed: 185,073, up from 177,503 last week

According to the Nevada Hospital Association, in Washoe County as of November, 4:

  • 88% staffed hospital beds are occupied (+7% since 11/3)
  • 73% of all licensed hospital beds are occupied (+6%)
  • 60% of all Intensive Care Unit beds are occupied (+14%)
  • 21% of all ventilators are in use (+4%)

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

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