Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter downgraded; new variant ‘likely’ in Washoe, officials say

The Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter was downgraded to the “high”, or orange level, as of Tuesday morning, according to local health officials.

Being in the orange category means that:

  • People shouldn’t meet with more than 10 people at a time
  • Consistently wear masks in public and around at-risk people
  • Strongly consider not going to gatherings unless it is for important or essential purposes
  • Do not enter stores or restaurants if they look crowded 

The meter has remained in the “very high” or red category since early November

“There is a lot to be thankful for and I’m happy to be sitting here and delivering some good news,” said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.

Jeremy Smith, executive director of the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency, said that test positivity rates, the number of new cases reported daily and hospitalization rates have decreased. 

A graph from the Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter of daily COVID-19 cases reported per 100,000 people. Jan. 26, 2021

Local officials said that the downgraded level on the risk meter is largely thanks to residents who have made the necessary changes in their lives. 

“We all agree that the changes are very much driven by our people,” said Councilwoman Naomi Duerr. “Their behavior was being reflected in the meter, and the meter was designed to influence their behavior. We have a good feedback loop.”

While the risk meter predicts a downward trend, local officials warned that there is potential for the meter to go back into the “red” category if residents are not careful, especially since the state detected the presence of a more contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus. 

The B.1.1.7 variant of the virus, which was detected in a Las Vegas woman with no travel history on Monday, is known to be approximately 30% more contagious than the original virus. 

Health officials said that it is likely that the new variant is present in Washoe County but has not been detected yet. 

They suggested that residents continue to wear masks, social distance and regularly wash hands. 

Coronavirus:Week in COVID-19: New cases see steady drop; Washoe seeing reduced vaccine delivery

As of Tuesday at noon, Washoe County reported a total of 40,680 COVID-19 cases, with 12,606 being active. There have also been a total of 587 COVID-19 related deaths in the county. 

Kristin Oh is a public safety reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. She can be reached at koh@rgj.com or at 775-420-1285.  Please help support her work by subscribing