The decline in new COVID-19 cases has hit a lull, Washoe County Health District (WCHD) Officer Kevin Dick said on Thursday.
The plateau is concerning, he added, as the community heads into cooler weather and Nevada Day and Halloween festivities which, last year, contributed to a surge of new cases leading into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
“We’re plateauing at a fairly high level of cases,” Dick said. “Similarly, what we’re seeing is the test positivity rate appears to be flattening as well… We are concerned with that. One hundred twelve new cases a day is beyond what we can keep up with, with all of the disease investigation and contact tracing efforts.”
WCHD is reporting 112 new cases per day on a seven-day moving average, up from last week which was at 103 new cases per day on a seven-day moving average. Test positivity has leveled off at 10%. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard shows the rate of deaths has continued to decline.
Washoe County remains in the high risk for disease transmission category among all government trackers.
Dick emphasized that unless more people get vaccinated for COVID-19 it will be difficult to move past the pandemic. About 65% of Washoe County, age 12 and over, have been vaccinated.
Dick said he was looking forward to federal approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 5-11, which will be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Oct. 26, but that getting more children vaccinated was just one part of the larger effort.
“I worry about everyone in our community,” he said. “Kids are significant and I would urge parents to consult with their physicians and get good information about the vaccine…That said, we also need more people in the 19- to 39-year-old age range to step up and get vaccinated as well. We’re seeing a lot of cases occur in that age range.”
Since August, when the school year began, there have been more than 1,100 cases of COVID-19 among students who were in school while contagious, according to Dick. He said that until a vaccine could be approved and administered to children, efforts should be focused on keeping schools operational while reducing the chances for exposure and community transmission.
COVID-19 vaccine is widely available in the community at local pharmacies and from healthcare providers, Dick said. Only about 15% of vaccinations are being administered through the WCHD.
About half of the COVID-19 vaccine doses administered at the health district are boosters for people who’ve received the Pfizer vaccine. Boosters are a third dose of the vaccine administered at least six months following the second dose and available for people who are over 65, have an underlying health condition or work in a job with high risk for exposure to the coronavirus.
Booster doses for the Moderna and Janssen vaccines were approved by the FDA on Wednesday along with a “mix-and-match” approach to allow local vaccination sites more flexibility in administering booster doses. Once the CDC issues guidance on those boosters, local health officials can begin administering them.
James English, a supervisor at WCHD, said once the guidelines are released those who received the Moderna or Janssen vaccine can visit the WCHD vaccine site to get their booster shot.
Those appointments will be walk-ins with paperwork filled out onsite. As with the Pfizer booster, it takes the state about a week to update its online scheduling site to accommodate requests for booster dose appointments, he said.
English also said that the cards issued when a person gets their COVID-19 vaccine do not get replaced if lost. If you arrive for a second dose or a booster without a vaccine card they’ll issue a separate one indicating which dose you’ve received on that visit.
COVID-19 vaccination records for doses received in Nevada can be accessed through the WebIZ portal online at https://izrecord.nv.gov/public/Application/PublicPortal. Those who are unable to find their records on the site can call Immunize Nevada at 1-800-401-0946 for assistance.
For a list of COVID-19 vaccination sites or to schedule an appointment visit https://covid19washoe.com/.
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with 20 years’ experience working in communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. In her free time, she is a volunteer backpacking guide along the Tahoe Rim Trail, an avid home cook and baker, cyclist, wife and stepmom.