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COVID-19: ‘Fantastic’ numbers, still high transmission

By Kristen Hackbarth

Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick said today that cases of COVID-19 in the community continue to decline, reaching case loads at levels not seen since last summer. 

Despite a second week of new daily cases in the double digits, however, the county remains in the high transmission range on the Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter. That’s a drop from a severe level a few weeks ago.

“These numbers are fantastic to see,” Dick said during a media call. 

Washoe County is reporting 59 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, and just 28 on Tuesday. Just three of the cases sequenced by the Nevada State Public Health Lab have been of the new BA2 variant. 

“We’re still learning about this variant and we’ll keep you posted as we find out more,” Dick said.

The seven-day moving average of new cases has also dropped to just under 70 – the lowest number since July 26, 2021.

The CDC test positivity rate has also been slashed nearly in half, dropping from 27% last week to 15.3% this week.

Dick encouraged people to continue masking even when not required, but especially when in crowded settings, to help reduce transmission even more. 

Not all is rosy, however. Dick said hospitals continue to have a high percentage of staffed beds occupied, at 84%, even though the number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has dropped to 74 as of today. 

He said the strain on hospitals was no longer caused by an overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients, but instead a shortage of available health care providers to care for patients. 

Moving beyond omicron

“We’re in a different world now as we move through the omicron wave,” Dick said, adding that after the massive and rapid surge of cases during that wave the community will be more prepared for future waves.

He urged the community to use the resources that are now available to help reduce strain on the health district and testing centers, including having at-home tests on hand and getting vaccinated. 

A flood of people signed up to get the COVID-19 booster dose when the omicron wave hit the community, Dick said, but demand has dropped significantly. First, second and booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are widely available in the community.

“We know that there are many more people that need to get that booster shot,” Dick said, and many more that haven’t gotten vaccinated. “Put this back on your list to get boosted if you are eligible for that.”

Studies continue to show the unvaccinated are significantly more likely to be hospitalized and to die from COVID-19.

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