County health officials today said there are 67 new cases of the COVID-19 variant B.1.1.7 in Washoe County since its last report on March 25, 2021. That brings the total B.1.1.7 cases to 112 since March.
The B.1.1.7 variant was originally found in the United Kingdom. It is considered more virulent and deadly than the variant that’s been in Washoe County now for more than a year.
“The majority of cases with this variant are due to spread occurring through private gatherings, in the workplace and with youth sporting events,” officials said in a press statement.
The first cases of B.1.1.7 were reported to have been spread by people from out of the area coming to the county for a celebration of life event.
The Reno Gazette Journal this week reported Bishop Manogue High School had to shut down due to an outbreak at the school, allegedly because of an off-site gathering of more than 200 people. At least one of the cases was the B.1.1.7 variant.
KUNR reported last year the school shut down and went remote after social gatherings caused a spike in infections from the disease.
“[A] ‘Do it yourself’ homecoming party took place inside a gated neighborhood at the home of a Reno-based orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Ries,” KUNR reported. “Ries confirmed over email to KUNR that he hosted the gathering at his home. He said temperature checks were taken at the door, there were fewer than 50 guests, and people adhered to social distancing and face coverings.
“But, photos of the event tell a different story. More than a dozen photos posted publicly on social media show party-goers in formalwear and Halloween attire, as many as nine huddled together, outdoors and indoors, without a mask in sight.”
Risk meter continues upward
The Truckee Meadows COVID-19 Risk Meter continues to show a slight rise in the risk scores, up a whole point from last week when the meter showed the region back in the ‘high’ range. The rating shows the risk for getting the coronavirus disease as determined by daily new cases, test positivity and hospital bed use.
Health officials urged the community to continue social distancing and mask-wearing, but yesterday the Washoe County Board of Commissioners voted to relax social distancing for the month of May in advance of June 1, the day Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said the state would fully reopen but with the mask mandate in place.
If the Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter reaches red (very high risk), the community will be required to revert to tighter restrictions.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.