More than 1,000 people tested positive Jan. 6, 2022 in Washoe County. It’s the single highest number of new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
The culprit is likely the easily transmitted omicron variant of COVID-19. Also this week, the test positivity rate jumped to 14%, which is where the region was in August and September of last year during the coronavirus surge of new cases that led to people being treated in Renown’s parking garage.
Hospital capacity is being reduced as well. Nearly 90% of area hospital beds are being used, and ICU bed usage is also on the increase at 80% of ICU beds occupied.
Initial information suggests omicron is less severe than the delta variant, so the impact of the variant’s rapid spread remains to be seen.
Health officials on Wednesday warned of the increasing cases with omicron spreading rapidly in Washoe County.
Washoe District Health Officer Kevin Dick said the region should prepare for difficult months ahead and said now is the time to “hunker down.”
High demand for testing
Washoe County Health District (WCHD) officials also said to prepare for long lines at regional testing locations. Four additional free testing locations were set up earlier this week at regional parks, and officials said they’re not only meeting capacity at 400 tests per day, they’ll be adding staff as well.
Officials asked the community to be patient when waiting for a test.
“COVID-19 test providers are working quickly and diligently to serve everyone who needs a test, but lines may be long and you may be required to wait outside or in your car,” officials said in a statement.
Appointments aren’t required at the four new testing sites, but pre-registration online can speed up the testing process. NorthShore Lab has also switched to only providing rapid antigen testing at the four sites to provide results more quickly.
WCHD continues to offer PCR tests at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center and appointments are required for that location. They are urging those who make an appointment to come for their test or cancel so that others can schedule. Appointments can be scheduled online at https://covid19washoe.com/testing/.
“The Health District is experiencing a high number of no-show appointments every day, and therefore not able to meet the need of those who need to be tested,” WCHD officials said.
Testing is also available at local pharmacies. Health officials said that those who suspect a COVID-19 infection but are awaiting a test should isolate based on CDC guidelines.
To find a nearby COVID-19 testing site visit https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/find-covid-19-testing-in-nevada/.
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