The Washoe County Health District is opening invites for vaccination to additional groups within the essential workforce in the frontline commerce and services industry category. According to WCHD’s Jim English, businesses who qualify to get their employees scheduled for the shot include bars, breweries, restaurants and other food facilities, hotels and casino-resorts.
People will need to be patient when scheduling their vaccines, English added, as the state is still receiving limited supplies. However, vaccine supplies are expected to ramp up in the coming weeks as the state nears Gov. Steve Sisolak’s deadline of April 5 to make all Nevadans 16 and older eligible to sign up.
Echoing what Sisolak said at his Wednesday press conference, the WCHD is advising that “people in Nevada need to understand that the current COVID-19 vaccine allotment in the state, and Washoe County, is not enough to conduct the type of mass vaccination that we would like and what would be required for this population.”
The county does have the resources and capacity to conduct more vaccinations per day but is awaiting more supply from the federal and state governments.
“We urge residents to be patient come April 5 as appointments will be limited and only initially available through pharmacy and healthcare providers,” health district officials told This Is Reno.
Next week’s allotment of vaccines to the county is slightly fewer than the week before at 8,850.
English encouraged people seeking the vaccine who need help getting an appointment scheduled to call the health district’s call center. He noted that the call center has staff who speak English, Spanish, Tagalog and Samoan. The number is 775-328-2427.
Watching for variants, spike in new cases
Health District Officer Kevin Dick said an additional case of the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, first detected in the United Kingdom and known as the U.K. variant, has been confirmed in Washoe County. This brings the total to 14 cases.
Dick said the health district is concerned that the variant may spread rapidly through the community and could become the predominant strain of the virus in Washoe County.
Seven of the 14 cases of the variant are linked to a youth volleyball team. Several others have been linked to a large gathering with more than 70 people that took place earlier this month. Other cases of the variant are still under investigation.
Dick said the health district is also wary and watching to see if the county experiences a spike in new cases following the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, which always brings large numbers of people to bars to celebrate.
Right now, he said, the county continues to experience a plateau of new cases at around 40 per day for the last month—as well as a plateau in test positivity at around 5%.
Dick also asked county residents who need a COVID-19 test to schedule it through the health district’s location at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center. He said tests done at doctor’s offices or pharmacies are not sent to the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory where they can be sequenced and variants can be identified through detailed disease investigation—adding that surveillance of new or existing variants in the county is made easier when more tests are sent to the health lab.
Learn more about vaccines on the health district’s website.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.