A spike in COVID-19 cases over the weekend has been tied to people gathering to celebrate Easter earlier this month, according to the Washoe County Health District.
Washoe County Health Officer Kevin Dick during a call with media on Monday said several people who tested positive during the 36-case spike on April 25 admitted to going to Easter gatherings, violating Nevada’s current stay-at-home orders.
Dick added that the health district believes more of those 36 cases are likely related to gatherings, Dick added.
“That’s the speculation we have, that we’re seeing the impacts of the gatherings that were occurring,” Dick said at a Monday press conference. “And we do know from our case investigations that we do have a number of cases where they … were participating in extended family gatherings that occurred for the holiday.”
Gov. Steve Sisolak on March 31 issued an emergency directive that all Nevadans are required to stay in their homes unless they’re performing essential work, essential shopping or for socially-distanced outdoor recreation.
Since that spike on Saturday, new cases in Washoe County have fallen from that high. Sunday saw 13 new cases and 16 were reported on Monday, according to county data.
But warming temperatures and the national dialogue around reopening states and economies has caused new concern that people might gather and spread the virus.
“I think that just as a society, maybe nationwide, we’ve relaxed ourselves a little bit, and that’s going to result in an uptick of cases even with the stay at home order,” said Heather Kerwin, who manages epidemiology for the Washoe County Health District. “I think we’ve already started to see that.”
Dick said he’s heard reports of large crowds at home improvement stores and even one sporting goods store that is open despite being deemed nonessential.
So far, the health district has not seen any new cases stemming from recent protests of the governor’s stay at home order in Carson City and Reno, according to Kerwin.
Those protests drew hundreds of people. While some participants wore masks, social distancing appeared scarce, according to press photos of the events.
Time still may tell if those protests will result in more spikes. For the positive cases stemming from Easter, nearly two weeks spanned before they tested positive on April 25.
The first protest happened just over one week ago and the second was this past weekend.
“People need to be very careful,” Dick said. “Cover your face when you’re out to avoid spread, maintain that six foot separation, only go out for essential needs and continue to practice the sanitation and hygiene we’ve been recommending.”
Sam Gross is a breaking news reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal who covers wildfires, emergencies and more. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com.
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