This is a breaking news story and will be updated throughout the day Thursday, Sept. 17. This story is part of the Reno Gazette Journal’s essential COVID-19 coverage and is being provided for free. Please consider subscribing to the RGJ to support our work.
166 new cases push Washoe County to record high
Labor Day gatherings are being blamed for a record number of active COVID-19 cases in Washoe County, according to a report released by the Regional Information Center on Thursday.
The county reported 166 new cases over the past day and a total of 1,346 active cases, topping the previous high of 1,301 on July 25.
Two deaths attributed to the coronavirus were reported: a man in his 60s with underlying health conditions and a man in his 80s with an underlying health condition.
The number of hospitalizations in the county due to the coronavirus rose to 54; 66% of all staffed short-term acute-care hospital beds are occupied, up 1 percentage point from Wednesday’s figures. The percentage of intensive care unit beds remained unchanged at 42%, while available ventilator use was up slightly to 16%.
Testing was up sharply, with 1,692 tests conducted in the past day — the highest single-day total since Aug. 13. More than 126,000 tests have been conducted in Washoe County since the pandemic began.
Nevada tops 1,500 coronavirus deaths statewide
Nevada has seen 12 deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 347 new cases over the past day, according to data released by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday.
To date, 74,595 Nevadans — or about 1 in 41 — have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and 1,506 have died since the pandemic began.
Hospitalization levels statewide remained steady, with 484 confirmed or suspected cases in Nevada hospitals. The number of patients in intensive care unit beds remained at 150, while ventilator use rose by one to 98 since Wednesday’s data release.
The state’s seven-day rolling positive test rate rose to 7.5%, the highest since Sept. 4; overall, the state has a positive test rate of 10.1% since the beginning of the pandemic. Clark County has the highest overall positive rate at 11.2%, followed by Nye County at 10.7%.
Washoe County no longer on governor’s COVID-19 at-risk list
Update 11:30 a.m.
Washoe County is no longer flagged as a county at risk for elevated disease transmission, according to data reported by the state COVID-19 task force Thursday.
To stay off the state list, counties must meet three criteria that track the average number of tests conducted, the new case rate and the test positivity rate.
This week, Washoe County’s positivity rate dipped to 7 percent, the threshold for being flagged for elevated disease transmission. Washoe County also is conducting an average of 165 tests per 100,000 people a day, meeting the governor’s criteria.
The only criteria Washoe County is now failing is the new case rate, which remains at 278 new cases per 100,000 people. The governor’s criteria is a rate of 200 new cases per 100,000 people.
The county was allowed to re-open its bars late Wednesday.
Washoe District Health Officer Kevin Dick said he remains concerned about spikes in new cases among university students. He reiterated there is no evidence the coronavirus is being spread in the classroom, but rather during off-campus parties.
Spike in new cases due to Labor Day gatherings, officials say
Washoe County reported 111 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, the highest one day increase in cases since Aug. 13 and a spike officials attribute to Labor Day gatherings.
The Regional Information Center also reported the death of a male in his 60s with underlying health conditions.
Washoe County is currently reporting 1,231 active cases, up 10 since yesterday. There are currently 51 cases hospitalized, a nine person increase since updates on Tuesday. There were 100 recovered cases.
There have been 669 new tests reported in the county, bringing the total tests conducted to 124,771.
The county reported a three percent increase in occupied staffed short-term, acute-care hospital beds, up to 65 percent. There has been a one percent increase in the number of occupied intensive care unit beds, up to 42 percent. 13 cases have been discharged from the hospital, according to data released on Wednesday.
Truckee Meadows COVID-19 risk meter drops to ‘moderate’
The Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter has shifted from a high to moderate risk level because the test positive rate over a seven-day period in Washoe County dropped to 7 percent.
The risk meter was the brainchild of Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, who wanted public health experts to advise the city on how to manage the pandemic, and developers hoped the public would use it to make personal decisions about things such as going to gatherings or sheltering in place.
The new tool shows things are improving, but there is a still a risk of community spread.
“This is great news,” said Dr. Eric Nielsen, a Reno emergency room doctor about the meter showing improving conditions. He said on Tuesday that Washoe had 42 new cases eight to nine days after the Labor Day weekend. Holiday weekends have proven to cause a jump in cases in Northern Nevada because of social gatherings.
The risk meter still shows there is still a risk of community spread but that guidelines such as social distancing and wearing a mask should continue.
“We are seeing the impacts of everybody’s efforts to work to control the spread of COVID-19 in the community,“ said Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick.
He also said the opening of bars in Washoe County at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday could impact the spread of COVID-19 in the coming weeks.
“There are still over 1,200 active cases in the community, so we do still have significant levels of disease in a community,” Dick said of an average of 57 new cases per day.
The county is still flagged under the Gov. Steve Sisolak’s criteria for case rate, which is 278 cases per 100,000 over a 30-day period. The threshold under the state’s criteria is 200.
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