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County warns of possible new surge of COVID-19 cases

By Bob Conrad

Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick today said there’s been a slight uptick statewide of COVID-19 cases, and he said there are now 57 documented cases of the B.1.1.7 variant.

“The CDC is now worried that we may have a fourth wave of COVID-19 that might be upon us, so that’s a cause of concern,” Dick said during an online media briefing. “The test positivity rate that we have seen had gone down to 5% but since then has been inching up from there.”

Cases in March have plateaued, Dick added, but the statewide test positivity rate is now at 5.4%. He described the spread of the B.1.1.7, or U.K. variant, in the region as rapid.

The Truckee Meadows Covid Risk Meter also shows the overall risk score of 6.5 on March 30, which is up from a low of 3.3 this year on March 21. The ranking is between moderate and high.

The so-called U.K. Variant is documented to be more virulent and possibly more deadly; however, health officials said vaccines help protect against the different strains of COVID-19.

“This variant is considerably more contagious than the original virus. It has spread rapidly around the globe and likely accounts already for at least one-third of all cases in the United States,” said Dr. Francis Collins with the National Institute of Health. “[Researcher] estimates suggest that B.1.1.7 infection was associated with 55 percent greater mortality compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants…”

The B.1.1.7 variant was first spread at a “celebration of life” gathering in Washoe County, an event that was attended by about 70 people, many of whom visited here from out of the area.

“It’s very important that we continue to work to get the community vaccinated,” Dick added.

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