COVID-19 cases spike in urban and rural Nevada

Washoe County District Health Officer calls for limited Thanksgiving celebration, taking virus more seriously

Looking through the locked gates of Greater Nevada Field in Reno, NV. The Minor League Baseball season was indefinitely postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic - photo: Brian Bahouth/The Ally

In recent weeks, while the elections have dominated the news, the number of active COVID-19 cases in Nevada and across the globe have continued to spike. In Nevada, along with Washoe and Clark counties, eight rural counties are seeing rapid rises in the number of active cases.

Yesterday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak implored Nevadans to be extra careful in preventing the transmission of the virus and to voluntarily stay at home over the next two weeks. 

“We are walking a tightrope between maintaining faith services, commerce and rec. activity and protecting lives, frontline workers and healthcare infrastructure. We must act now to keep our economy open and eventually restore other vital parts of our life,” Sisolak said.

According to the Nevada Hospital Association, Monday marked the highest recorded number of hospitalizations since mid-August.

“If we can take action now, we can keep our businesses open, reduce the spread of COVID, save lives and keep our healthcare system from being overwhelmed,” Sisolak said. 

During a press conference Wednesday, Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick echoed the Governor’s comments and said many in the County are not taking the coronavirus seriously. He said a lax attitude regarding virus transmission has resulted in a near doubling of active cases in a week.

“Our seven day moving average for new cases stands at 337.4. So we have very high levels of disease transmission, alarming levels that are occurring in Washoe County,” Dick said. “For some perspective, a week ago, we were at 199, so now we’re at 337.4. 

“And I can tell you since October 1, our levels of new cases that we’re having each day are at about three and a half times what they were at the beginning of October. So we have widespread community transmission that’s occurring. 

“And I want to echo the Governor’s message. And I thank him for his Stay at Home 2.0 message yesterday that with all of the cases that are out there in our community, and just of the ones that we’ve tested and confirmed, we’ve got over 3,800 active cases.

“It’s very important for people to stay home as much as possible and to limit any excursions outside of your household to be for essential needs, either work, getting food, or medical attention, and medicines, so we can give this two weeks and do our best. Let’s see if we can make an impact in the numbers. I know. Nobody wants to be closing down businesses again. But I think it’s an important message that we have that if we cannot do this, that there will be other actions that are necessary to control the spread of disease that we’re seeing.”

Renown Medical Center has expanded the emergency COVID-19 ward in anticipation of a large influx of patients. During today’s press conference, Kevin Dick expressed concern that hospitals are feeling the pressure.

“The Nevada Hospital Association reported that we had 167 confirmed cases, hospitalized in our Washoe County hospitals. We had another 37 that were suspected COVID-19 cases that were awaiting results. We had in our ICU beds 59 COVID-19, or suspected COVID-19 patients, and of all of the ICU patients in the hospitals that were reported, that represents 40 percent of the ICU hospitalizations. 

“So this level of COVID impact on the hospitals is of concern. And it’s also important to recognize that the COVID-19 patients that are hospitalized have longer hospital stays than your average patients within the hospitals. So that further exacerbates the burden on our hospital system. So it’s very important for us all to take this quite seriously and do everything that we can to prevent the spread and prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed with a high number of cases that we have, that are occurring.”

The County has already rolled back the number of people who can safely gather to 50. The Governor’s Directive limits private, in-door gatherings to 10 people, or 20 outdoors.

Dick encouraged residents to not hold Thanksgiving gatherings with people outside their immediate households.

“Sadly we have had family gatherings that have occurred while we’ve had COVID-19 that have resulted in deaths of family members in these households that were bringing together households that weren’t living together as extended families,” Dick said.

According to Dick, the spread of the virus is currently uncontrolled.

“Unfortunately there are some people in our community that are ignoring our messaging and under the impression that COVID-19 is not a big deal, that they need to be worried about and should be working together to address,” Dick said.

Yesterday, Governor Sisolak spoke about walking a tightrope between keeping businesses open and the virus under control. He gave the state two weeks to slow the spread of COVID or greater restrictions loom.

“We can avoid that nightmare scenario. But we have two weeks to do it and it will take every one of us. Again, if we don’t come together at this moment, I will be forced to take stronger action in 14 days. To be clear, I don’t want to.

“I want to stay on the path to get all Nevada children back in the classroom, opening conventions to 50 percent by January 1, and lifting more restrictions,” Sisolak said. “That’s the path I’ve laid out for Nevada. Now we need to decide if we remain on it.”


Brian Bahouth is the editor of the Sierra Nevada Ally. Support his work, and NewsMatch will match your contribution dollar-for-dollar.