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COVID update: Omicron surge prompts mask mandate for all Nevada counties–again (updated)

By Bob Conrad

Storey, Eureka and White Pine counties join the rest of the state today in going back to a mask mandate. 

“Cases continue to increase rapidly across the state with the current omicron surge,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak spokesperson Meghin Delaney. “According to Directive 045, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear masks in indoor settings again.”

The three Nevada counties were previously experiencing low COVID-19 transmissions but were unable to escape the highly contagious omicron variant. So it’s back to masks for the rural areas starting Friday, Jan. 21. 

Washoe County continues to experience a massive spike in new cases. County data on Jan. 16, 2022 show the highest number of COVID-19 cases ever recorded in a single day with a 25% test positivity rate.

The COVID-19 risk meter is now at its highest rating – severe. 

“At this stage, our community is in crisis mode,” the Truckee Meadows Risk Meter indicates. 

Hospitals reached the high range for both bed use and ICU last week, and 14 people have died from COVID-19 since the start of the year.

Scott Oxarart with the Washoe County Health District said six of the 14 who died were fully vaccinated, one was boosted and all had underlying health conditions.

Other COVID-19 news

Free test kits: The U.S. Postal Service today announced four free test kits for each household. People can order the free kits here: https://special.usps.com/testkits

Local testing on hold again: Numerous people have complained about not receiving results from the mobile testing labs operated by Northshore Clinical Labs. KRNV reported that people have waited a week or more for results. The company today announced it was closing pop-up locations to get more supplies to the four locations. The testing locations have been swamped with people needing tests and plan to reopen tomorrow.

State looks to reduce healthcare shortages: Gov. Sisolak today said staffing shortages at health care facilities is an ongoing problem, especially with skyrocketing cases of COVID-19. He said the state’s health division and State Board of Nursing are working to enroll nursing students as nurse apprentices to increase health care staffing and while providing hands-on experience for students. The state is also putting out a call for more people to join the Battle Born Medical Corp, a volunteer program for licensed health care professionals.

Washoe County adds text system for case investigation: Health District officials said they’ve added a self-survey to its case investigation system to help them get more information on the spread of COVID in the community. The survey is delivered by text to people over 18 who’ve tested positive at one of the area’s test locations. The survey takes about 10 minutes to complete and asks for information on those the infected person may have exposed. The survey adds to an existing text and email notification system that lets people know if they are a close contact of someone who’s been confirmed to have COVID-19.

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