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Public Health

Coronavirus In Nevada: March 12-18

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

For recent updates on Coronavirus in Nevada, visit our updates and resources webpage.

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Wednesday, March 18

10:17 p.m. PDT | March 18, 2020
By Michelle Billman

State Total Of COVID-19 Cases Hits 85

The Southern Nevada Health District is reporting a total of 69 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clark County, as of Wednesday evening.

At the same time, the Washoe County Health District is confirming two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in Washoe County to 14.

The two new Washoe cases are: a man in his 30’s with recent travel Europe and a man in his 30’s with recent travel to Washington.

Both cases are self isolating and are in stable condition. The WCHD is investigating and working to identify close risk contacts to prevent community spread of the disease.

There is also a case in Carson City and a new case in Douglas County, bringing the state total to 85.

UNR Shuts Down All Non-Essential Operations, Closes To Public

The University of Nevada, Reno sent a statement Wednesday saying that all non-essential operations at the school would cease by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

There will be no access to the campus by the public; access will only be available to faculty, staff, and students handling critical functions who have their own keys or cards.

This also means that students living in residence halls had to leave immediately on Wednesday to return to their homes, unless they have extenuating circumstances.

All faculty will start delivering their courses online next week.

This closure includes operations at the fitness center, athletic facilities, vendors and any location where people socialize. UNR officials said the goal of these actions is to reduce the physical presence on campus.

The announcement came after Governor Steve Sisolak's announcement on Tuesday mandating the closure of all non-essential businesses across the state.

Washoe, Reno Law Enforcement Stepping Up Patrols

During a multi-agency press conference Wednesday, law enforcement officials for the Reno Police Department and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said that both agencies are increasing patrols to protect vulnerable residents and business properties that are shutting down their operations.

Sheriff Darin Balaam also said the county is experiencing an increase in 911 calls due to concerns about COVID-19.

The cities of Reno and Sparks, along with Washoe County, are all still grappling with what the definition of “non-essential businesses” entails and how many businesses are now affected by Governor Sisolak's mandate to shut down for 30 days.

At Wednesday's press conference, a representative from the Reno Police Department stated that Chief Jason Soto is working with state partners to come up with a plan to ensure additional test kits are available for the local community and first responders.

Washoe Co. Changes Business Operations

Washoe County has modified its business operations to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This webpage has details about all county services, everything from the Sheriff’s Office to juvenile justice to the registrar of voters.

Reno News And Review Suspends Publication

The Reno News & Review is suspending its operations after this week's publication. Sister papers in Sacramento and Chico are also halting their production.

In an article titled “Fare thee well” editor Brad Bynum explained that with local restaurants, coffee houses, nightclubs and bars either shuttered or operating with drastically reduced hours due to the novel coronavirus, business owners don't have enough funding for print advertising.

The alt-weekly has been publishing in Northern Nevada for 25 years and is best known for its coverage of visual art, the local food scene, music and theater.

All TMCC Physical Locations Are Closed

Truckee Meadows Community College has closed all of its physical locations. Classes and services will be delivered remotely starting March 23. There’s an FAQ page here.

Gov. Sisolak Waives Work Search Requirement for Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Nevada’s governor made the announcement on Facebook Live and provided this description for the video:

Today, I instructed the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR), Employment Security Division to waive the work search requirement and the 7-day wait period for approved unemployment insurance benefits. Both of these instructions are practical, common-sense measures in order to help as many Nevadans obtain unemployment insurance benefits, while helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19. My administration will continue to work with our federal delegation to identify additional steps that can be taken to ease the economic pain of families across our state.

City Of Reno Provides More Details On Reno Business Closures
Press Release From The City Of Reno

The Reno Police Department (RPD), Business License and Code Enforcement divisions would like to advise the media and public of how business closures will occur for the next 30 days, and reiterate what types of businesses are affected. Per the Nevada Health Response COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Initiative, which has been issued as guidance by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, all non-essential businesses have been ordered to temporarily close to the public, effective today, for 30 days. The above-referenced Initiative identifies non-essential services and sectors, to include (but are not limited to): Entertainment & hospitality, including but not limited to strip clubs and brothels, casinos, concert venues, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums, large conference rooms, meeting halls, and cafeterias Recreation and athletic facilities, including but not limited to community and recreation centers, gyms, health clubs, fitness centers, yoga, barre and spin facilities Beauty and personal care services and facilities, including but not limited to barber shops, beauty, tanning, waxing hair salons, and nail salons and spas Retail facilities, including shopping malls except for pharmacy or other health care facilities within retail operations. Retailers are encouraged to continue online operations with pickup and delivery Essential services and sectors are covered in the Nevada Health Response COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Initiative. The City of Reno is requesting and hoping that this current crisis can be addressed in collaboration with all our residents and business owners. The City of Reno has no desire to take enforcement action on businesses. However, under the authority provided in NRS 414 and RMC Chapters 4.04 and 8.34, the City can enforce the Governor’s order through multiple actions, which include, but are not limited to: citations up to $1,000 per day misdemeanor citations summary suspension of a business license revocation of a business license Enforcement action may be taken against owners or employees in control of the business. Read the City of Reno Enforcement of Initiative notice for more information. Please continue to pay attention to Reno.gov/COVID19, our social media, emails and other credible sources of news for the most recent updates and information.

Foreclosures And Evictions Suspended For Vast Majority Of Nevada Homeowners
Press Release From The Nevada State Treasurer

Today, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) suspended all foreclosures and eviction actions on mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) for the next 60 days. The FHA provides over $1.3 trillion in mortgage insurance, project-based rental assistance, and housing assistance for senior citizens. This matches Wednesday’s announcement by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will also suspend all foreclosures and evictions for the next 60 days. These two actions will ensure that roughly 85% of single-family homeowners in Nevada can remain in their homes as they deal with the situation surrounding COVID-19. “Recent decisions at the federal-level will give homeowners the peace of mind that no matter what happens with their economic situation over the next two months, they can stay in their homes,” said Nevada State Treasurer Zach Conine. “We are hopeful that landlords will use this temporary relief provided by the federal government to give their tenants flexibility to delay rent payments in the event that they are furloughed or laid off because of the impact of COVID-19.” Homeowners can find out if Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns their respective home loans by calling or going online. Fannie Mae loans can be searched by calling 1-800-2FANNIE or by visiting https://www.knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup. Freddie Mac loans can be searched by calling 1-800-FREDDIE or by visiting FreddieMac.com/mymortgage. Homeowners can also contact their lenders directly to learn how their mortgages will be impacted over the next 60 days.

Sisolak Orders All Non-Essential Businesses Closed Statewide

10:12 p.m. PDT | March 17, 2020
By Paul Boger

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has ordered all non-essential businesses in the state to close by noon Wednesday, March 18.

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all retail establishments, bars, dine-in restaurants, hotels and beauty services are barred from opening for the next 30 days.

The order also includes the state’s gaming industry, with all video-gaming and slot machines as well as casinos shut down before Wednesday.

The governor made the announcement during a press conference in Las Vegas, Tuesday evening.

When asked about the impact on the state's economy, Sisolak told reporters his decision was imperative to protect the public's health.

"This is affecting the lives of our citizens,” an exasperated Sisolak exclaimed. "People are dying. Every day that we are delayed here, I'm losing a dozen people on the back end that are going to die as a result of this."

Essential services, like first responders and hospitals, will remain available. Businesses like urgent care facilities, pharmacies, airports, banks and mail service will also remain open.

From The Governor’s Remarks

The following COVID-19 risk mitigation policies are proven to be effective at reducing death and illness and slowing down the rate of transition in prior pandemics: All Nevadans must ensure that 6 feet of social distancing per person for non-family members is maintained. Only essential services should remain open — such as fire, police, transit, and health care services — in addition to businesses that provide food, shelter or social services for disadvantaged populations. Non-essential services such as beauty shops, barbershops, and nail, tanning, and waxing salons should close until further notice. Only essential businesses should remain open such as, pharmacies, grocery stores, drug and convenience stores, banks and financial institutions, hardware stores, and gas stations. I am asking grocery stores to consider special hours for the vulnerable populations. All gatherings should be postponed or canceled. This is not the time for sleepovers, playdates, concerts, theater outings, or athletic events. Although you may not be experiencing symptoms at this time, you may be contagious. Do not risk your own health or the health of others. Many of you will not be in your office or at work over the next few weeks. This is not a vacation and it’s not the time to catch up with friends. It’s definitely not the time to go to the movies. Every social contact increases your risk of exposure. The bigger the group, the higher your risk. This means that you should stay away from auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large conference rooms, meeting halls, and cafeterias. I know in times of stress, many of you seek the release that comes from exercise. But this is not the time for you to be in a gym, health club, or fitness center. Until the risk goes away, find other ways to exercise such as home workouts, hikes, or other outdoor activities. But as you do so, remember to maintain social distancing from others doing the same. Some events are unavoidable. We still want you to experience the joy of weddings, but this is not the time to bring your friends together — especially if this will require travel. Consider postponing the celebration to a time when the risk is low or eliminated. For my friends making preparations to say goodbye to loved ones, please limit the attendance at funeral services. Consider outdoor services where the risk of exposure is less than inside. This is only common sense. In a time where people are getting sick from simply being near others, this is not the time for gyms to remain open. This is not the time for casinos to remain open. This is not a time for community recreation centers, clubhouses, movie theaters and malls to remain open. If your business brings groups of people together, it should not be open. Although I cannot and will not say that places of worship should be closed, I strongly urge our faith leaders to find ways to deliver to your congregation without bringing them together in person. Charitable food distribution sites, including the meals being distributed to our students in wake of the school closings, along with grocery stores should remain fully open and operational. Food services for health care facilities and other essential facilities should remain open. Any buffet or food stations used in charitable food distribution settings should transition to boxed meals or be served through gloved staff members or volunteers. Restaurants throughout Nevada, in addition to pubs, wineries, bars and breweries that include meals provided by a full kitchen should be reduced to serving food only in a drive-thru, take-out or delivery capacity. No dine-in at food establishments should be allowed until further notice. This also includes food courts, coffee shops, catered events, clubs, bowling alleys and other similar venues in which people congregate for the consumption of food or beverages. Pubs, wineries, bars, and breweries that do not include meals provided by a full kitchen must close. To summarize: I am telling non-essential businesses you have two choices: Find a way to service your customers through delivery, drive-thru, curbside pickup or front door pickup, or close your doors.

Get Caught Up

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Tuesday, March 17

10:12 p.m. PDT | March 17, 2020
By Noah Glick

Federal Funds For Nevada COVID-19 Efforts

Nevada is getting some help from the federal government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen released a statement on Tuesday announcing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded $6.5 million to Nevada.

The senators said they will “continue working in the Senate and with Governor Steve Sisolak to provide Nevadans with much needed resources to protect public health, safety, and well-being.”

The funds come from a 2020 federal appropriations act that is supplying $560 million in initial funding to states, localities and territories to respond to the crisis.

Nevada Business Relief

Businesses in Nevada may soon be getting some relief through low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SBA has administratively declared the entire state of Nevada an economic disaster zone, meaning any companies impacted by COVID-19 are eligible. These economic disaster loans offer up to $2 million per business.

Loans can be used to pay off debts, pay employees, or pay other bills that can’t be made due to impacts from the coronavirus.

To apply, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.

WCSD Offers Update On Distance Learning

The Washoe County School District issued a statement saying it’s in the final stages of developing distance learning plans for when students are expected back from spring break on March 30. Governor Sisolak has ordered all K-12 schools to be closed through April 6.

“Even though buildings are closed, we want the community to be reassured that we are developing thorough plans for learning and instruction, to continue during this difficult and unprecedented time,” Interim Superintendent Kristen McNeill said in a statement.

The district has not finalized any plans at this point.

Reno Shuts Down Non-essential Government Services

The city of Reno is officially limiting staff hours and will be responding only to essential functions, according to an announcement Tuesday from the city.

The statement said the following developments will include:

  • All Reno City Hall floors above 2, with the exception of privately leased space on 10 and 14, are closed to the public.
  • The City Clerk and Community Development desks are closed; drop-offs are being provided for people who need to leave things behind.
  • While the public may no longer file a report in person at Reno Police Department headquarters, they are encouraged to visit renopd.com or call 775-334-2175 to file non-emergency reports. Outward-facing public safety functions and related services such as police patrols and fire stations are otherwise unaffected.
  • Sewer operations, traffic engineering, road/street repairs and closures conducted by Public Works will continue as usual.

All City of Reno employees who are able to work from home or remotely have been instructed to do so. For more information, you can visit the city’s website.

3:16 p.m. PDT | March 17, 2020
By Noah Glick

New COVID-19 Cases In Washoe County

The Washoe County Health District confirmed three new presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the county on Tuesday morning. Two are men in their 60’s and one is a woman in her 30’s. All of them have either recently traveled to a known hotspot or came into contact with someone who had the virus.

That brings the total number of cases to 12 in Washoe County and 55 in the state.

The Washoe County Health District said all three people are self isolating and are in stable condition. The agency said it’s working to identify any potential contacts to prevent the spread of the disease.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this information stated 48 total cases in the state. That number has been updated to reflect the latest total of 55. Updated at 3:30 p.m.

Washoe County Declares Emergency

The Washoe County Commission has issued an emergency declaration for the county to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The declaration will open additional resources for the county to prevent the spread.

Commission Chair Bob Lucey said in a statement that the county must be ready to take strong action to safeguard the community.

Officials are urging residents to not panic, but to be prepared. They also suggest reaching out to vulnerable community members who may need extra help.

Census Update

The U.S. Census Bureau is updating its operations for this year’s census, to deal with the spread of COVID-19.

One big update is how the bureau plans to count college students. New guidelines state that even if students are forced out of university housing due to COVID-19, they will still be counted as part of the university community.

The agency said it’s also looking at additional ways to make sure people in nursing homes, prisons and other institutions are counted accurately and safely.

The deadline to deliver the final results is July 31 of this year, but the bureau said that deadline might get pushed back to ensure an accurate count.

Mining Update

Environmentalists in Nevada are calling on the state’s environmental division to postpone all mining permits, while the public deals with impacts from COVID-19.

The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter Tuesday to the director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, urging the agency to suspend all mining permits and public comment periods until the pandemic is under control.

Nevada State Director Patrick Donnelly said in the letter, “it is impossible to credibly say that the public will have an opportunity for involvement in these permitting processes while there is a public health emergency ongoing.”

The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources did not immediately respond for comment.

Douglas County Closures

Douglas County is also announcing several closures.

The Douglas County Community and Senior Center in Gardnerville, Kahle Community Center at Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Douglas Senior Center and the Topaz Ranch Estates Community Center will be experiencing reduced services. All meetings, activities and functions in the county’s senior centers and community parks are suspended.

County parks will remain open, but scheduled activities are canceled.

Douglas Area Rural Transit (DART) services will continue, but only for scheduled appointments.

Additionally, Meals on Wheels will continue as usual, with modifications for safety in place. Seniors wishing to receive this service should contact Douglas County Senior Center at 775-782-5500 ext. 1.

Nevada Health Exchange Re-opens

Nevadans dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak without health insurance are getting some relief.

The state’s health insurance exchange, known as Nevada Health Link, is opening a special enrollment period for people who missed the Open Enrollment Period to sign up for health insurance.

This special enrollment period runs from March 17 through April 15.

Nevada Health Link said the move is in response to Governor Steve Sisolak’s Emergency Declaration, and officials said that health insurance is not required to be tested for COVID-19.

Anyone interested in seeking coverage should contact the Customer Assistance Call Center at 1-800-547-2927; TTY 771.

School Closures Can Pose Challenges For Medical Providers

11:58 a.m. PDT | March 17, 2020
By Anh Gray

Novel coronavirus cases continue to increase nationwide, and also in Nevada. Medical providers, in particular, already face challenges during pandemics. Recent school closures can be an added burden for working families.

Medical providers are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Tony Slonim is the president and CEO of Renown Health. He said since many health care workers have families, school closures can also pose a challenge.

“With schools closing, that puts an important weight on families who are health care workers and relying on their children [to be] cared for in school,” Slonim said. “We also have a childcare center on campus, and for the moment, that's open, so that people can still come to work and have their children well cared for in that environment.”

As the pandemic is unfolding, Slonim said it could take a toll on the medical community.

“We don't know how things may change as the virus continues to evolve,” Slonim explained. “As health care workers have to go offline, either because of their own family's obligations, whether it's childcare or care of another relative, or go offline because they themselves need to be quarantined or are sick, that does impact the abilities of our health care systems.”

To protect medical staff at Renown, Slonim said personal protective equipment like gloves, masks and respirators have been provided. He also recommends that health workers stay home when sick to avoid spreading the illness.

COVID-19 Online Learning Solutions Present Challenges For Students With Autism, ADHD

9:22 a.m. PDT | March 17, 2020
By Bree Zender

In response to the spread of coronavirus, schools across the nation, including the University of Nevada, Reno, are transitioning to online learning for a period of time. This adjustment can be a challenge for some students; particularly those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Cady Stanton has coached people with autism or ADHD for the past 15 years and has studied the role it plays in academic outcomes.

Listen to this interview to learn more.

Get Caught Up

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Monday, March 16

8:00 p.m. PDT | March 16, 2020
By Stephanie Serrano

Nevada Reports A COVID-19 Death Monday

Nevada reported its first COVID-19-related death on Monday. Health officials in the Las Vegas area said a man in his sixties, who had been hospitalized with the coronavirus, has died. The Southern Nevada Health District said the man had underlying health conditions. Nevada has identified at least 45 COVID-19 cases statewide so far.

A total of nine are in Washoe County and one in Carson City.

City Of Reno Orders Non-Essential Businesses To Close By March 20

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve has announced a mandatory closure on all non-essential businesses, including gyms, restaurants and bars. City officials are advising businesses to wind down starting Tuesday at 10 a.m., with the goal to close by Friday, March 20. They will remain closed through April 5.

Gaming will continue as long as casino properties comply with new regulations, like cleaning the machines every two hours, minimizing table games to three chairs and enforcing new CDC restrictions. Other businesses within the casino properties may close.

According to the mayor, this does not impact takeout, delivery or pickup options for restaurants. Gas stations, grocery stores, doctors’ offices and pharmacies will remain open.

Currently, the City of Sparks has not called for any mandatory non-essential business closures.

Schieve is working with the Reno Housing Authority and asking landlords to suspend any future evictions. The mayor is also lifting delivery restrictions in order to expedite supplies and goods to the city.

During Monday’s press conference, Schieve made erroneous comments about the closures that led to confusion among community members and the city ultimately released a clarifying statement.

Agriculture Dept. Announces Meal Access Plan For K-12 Students

After Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced the temporary closure of all K-12 schools statewide through April 6, the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) is implementing a two-tier system to provide meal access for students who receive free and reduced lunch.

The meals will be provided at specific county schools in a grab-and-go style to minimize potential contamination and avoid delays. NDA officials are urging all meal sites to practice social distancing by keeping people six feet apart if lines begin to form.

If the meal sites were to be shut down, the second tier implements USDA foods through the Emergency Food Assistance program, which will supply household foods instead of prepared meals.

Community members can check the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s Facebook page for meal locations and meal pickup times.

Southern Nevada Working With FEMA To Get More COVID-19 Tests

After Nevada announced the death of a man in his sixties who was fighting underlying health conditions and the coronavirus, the Southern Nevada Health District announced they are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to secure more testing resources.

Southern Nevada health officials are working to provide drive-thru swab pods to test for the virus. If successful, this would allow them to test 2,000 to 4,000 people a week.

Currently, they are testing about 60 people a day and are running low on kits.

The CDC is directing Southern Nevada not to send their presumptive positive cases to the agency. Instead, the CDC has told that region to consider those cases to be confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Lyon County Declares State Of Emergency

The Board of County Commissioners has declared a state of emergency for Lyon County to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The board is directing several events to be rescheduled and limiting public meetings to 30 people or less. A number of community centers are also temporarily closed.

Senior centers will be closed, but senior citizens will have access to meals through Meals on Wheels, or from a drive-up meal pickup site through April 6.

UNR Postpones Presidential Search But Says Commencement Won’t Be Canceled

As coronavirus developments continue in the state, the University of Nevada, Reno’s search for a new president has been delayed by the Nevada System of Higher Education.

The university campus is continuing to use alternate operations and remains open. Students will begin online courses on March 23 and canceling spring commencement is not under consideration, although options for an online ceremony that could be live-streamed to the public and graduates may be an option.

Students living in the resident halls have been asked to relocate off campus, but university officials said they are working with students whose only option is to live on campus.

How Renown Is Prepping For Coronavirus

6:13 p.m. PDT | March 16, 2020
By Anh Gray

The Southern Nevada Health District announced the first novel coronavirus-related death in the state on Monday. Officials said the individual was a man in his sixties with underlying medical conditions and that he was hospitalized.

As of Monday afternoon, there are 45 cases of COVID-19 statewide.

As more hospitals across the nation are treating patients with the illness, KUNR’s Anh Gray spoke with Dr. Tony Slonim, the president and CEO of Renown Health, to learn how the hospital is prepping for possible cases.

KUNR's Anh Gray discusses Renown Health's coronavirus preparation with President and CEO Dr. Tony Slonim on Monday, March 16.

Gray: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the concerns over medical resources available to communities. What insights can you share about the resources at Renown? Are there concerns about medical staffing or resources, such as hospital beds, medical supplies and equipment?

Slonim: So coronavirus and the family of coronaviruses [have] been around for a long time. They're the kind of virus that causes a respiratory droplet transmitted disease and the way that you prevent the spread of those diseases... you put people in special rooms and you wear protective equipment. We have a number of those rooms available at Renown Health to make sure that if a person were to be hospitalized with COVID, that they would be put in the isolation room, and the staff that were caring for them would be using appropriate isolation and personal protective equipment.

We drill for this on a routine basis. So we have upwards of 50 or so of these rooms available in the community and they handle a variety of respiratory conditions that require isolation, not just COVID-19. So building that infrastructure is something that comes along with the part and parcel of being prepared for these kinds of community-based intrusions or problems.

Gray: We have not had patients with COVID-19 hospitalized [at Renown Health] yet. What protocols have been put in place at Renown, should that situation change?

Slonim: At this point, we have no hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The staff have masks and personal protective equipment of a variety of sorts so that they can protect themselves, their families, and other patients that they may see as they move forward.

Right now, we think that we're doing just fine as it relates to equipment. That's our latest information. As the disease takes further hold though, we'll have to continually reassess. For example, if providers start to become ill with the virus, that will take them offline because of the potential that they'll spread it to other providers, or even patients. So you ultimately have to be planning in the long-term for additional, not only structural things like equipment, beds and hospital rooms, but of medical providers, nursing providers and even laboratory and respiratory providers, as this continues to evolve.

Gray: What about testing? People are concerned about the availability of testing. Public health authorities base testing criteria on several factors, while also considering the resources available. How can clinicians adequately treat people, unless more tests are done?

Slonim: Right now testing is in limited supply and based upon criteria, which puts those tests to the best use, meaning the people that are the most vulnerable. The department of health has jurisdiction over pandemics, so they were taking the lead from the CDC and from the health district, as it relates to testing criteria and availability of testing. The idea is the more people that you screen who you know factually have the virus, whether or not they're symptomatic, you can either quarantine them or cohort them in a way that prevents the transmission to other people who may be well. So locking that down to some extent is important. And because you can have the virus for a couple of days before you become symptomatic, testing is a pivotal piece of work. I know that lots of people are putting their heads to thinking about how we can advance testing for our community.

Gray: Many public health officials are urging people to social distance, which they say, would help slow the spread by flattening the curve. In other words, to lessen the spike of cases, which could inundate the health care system. What are your thoughts about that?

Slonim: I think the flattening of the curve revolves around two things: One, if people are sick, stay home so you're not spreading. And two, we need some hard facts in our community and that's where I think that the incremental testing will come in. How are we identifying a greater availability to test more of the community, who may not even know that they're transmitting the virus, because they haven't been tested. The signs and the symptoms are so subtle that you may simply overlook them and not know that you should be staying home. People want to do the right thing. It's a matter of helping them to understand what the right thing is and how to manage that.

Nev. Coronavirus Test Lab Needs More Supplies To Evaluate Kits

4:32 p.m. PDT | March 16, 2020
By Bree Zender

The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, which processes coronavirus testing, currently has a limited supply of materials left to analyze the results.

Dr. Mark Pandori, who runs the lab, said he received testing kits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 5,000 testing kits are left, but he said that his lab, as well as many others across the country, are running into shortages of the materials needed to run the results.

“We have the capacity to test at least through the week, at this rate, and we are working on contingency plans to carry that even further,” Pandori said.

Pandori said the lab is testing around 100 coronavirus kits a day. He said the lab is in “close conversation” with the Federal Food and Drug Administration to come up with other processing options by Tuesday.

Get Caught Up

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Monday, March 16

9:06 a.m. PDT | March 16, 2020
By Stephanie Serrano

Nev. Gov. Gives Several Statewide Updates On COVID-19:

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak was flushed with emotion during the delivery of a second press conference Sunday afternoon while announcing several COVID-19 statewide updates, including the closure of schools and state offices.

The second press conference came hours after the governor announced the temporary closure of all K-12 Nevada schools across 17 districts. Sisolak ensured that all school employees would continue to get paid and students receiving free and reduced lunch would continue to have access to food.

The governor also issued an emergency resolution to expand the authorization of paid administrative leave for state employees and he directed leadership to close state offices as soon as possible. He also issued a hiring freeze to encourage state agencies to limit their spending to emergency purchases.

For other services like welfare, unemployment and the DMV, he is asking leadership to transition to online and phone assistance.

Sisolak said Nevada has a shortage of COVID-19 testing kits and does not have an adequate timeline of when the state would receive more.

In support of social-distancing, Sisolak is asking local governments to limit public gatherings to 50 or less people. He also asked those who are elderly to stay home and for faith leaders to postpone congregations.

The governor is advising gaming properties that have not closed their doors to comply with new regulations, keeping no more than three chairs per table game and cleaning gaming machines every two hours. Buffet-goers must be served by employees and not by themselves.

City Of Sparks Declares State Of Emergency:

The City of Sparks declared a state of emergency over the weekend to ensure faster delivery of supplies and resources.

In response to the statewide closure of K-12 schools through April 6, the City of Sparks is canceling all City of Sparks Parks and Recreation child care during spring break and before and after school programs. In addition, all Sparks community centers are closed through at least April 6.

Truckee Meadows Boys And Girls Club Closure:

Following new CDC regulations directing public gatherings to a minimum of 50 people or less, the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows is closing all facilities until March 20.

Five Additional Positive COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Washoe County
Total Cases In Washoe County Is Nine

5:04 p.m. PDT | March 15, 2020
Press Release By Washoe County Health District

Reno, Nev. March 15, 2020. The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) received five new positive test results for COVID-19. The total number of cases in Washoe County is nine. The five new cases are: A woman in her 40s who traveled to Southern California. A woman in her 30s who traveled to the Bay Area in California. A man in his 20s who is a close contact to a previously-identified case in Washoe County. A man in his 30s who is a close contact to a previously-identified case in Washoe County. A woman in her 30s, who is a close contact to a previously-identified case in Washoe County. All cases are in stable condition and are self isolating at their homes. The Health District is investigating and working to identify close risk contacts to prevent community spread of the disease. Due to medical privacy requirements and to protect their identity, no further information about the case will be released. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is no longer confirming tests. All cases that were presumptive positive in Washoe County are now officially confirmed. There are nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washoe County. More information on COVID-19 can be found at www.washoecounty.us/covid19. Residents concerned they might have COVID-19 can contact their healthcare provider or telemedicine provider, or call the Health District at 775-328-2427 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or 3-1-1 after hours. Media: There are no media briefings scheduled. The video of Saturday’s press briefing can be found here.

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Sunday, March 15

4:34 p.m. PDT | March 15, 2020
By KUNR Staff

Nev. Gov. Sisolak Closing All K-12 Schools Statewide:

All K-12 Nevada schools, including public, private and charter schools, are temporarily shutting down through April 6 in order to battle the spread of COVID-19. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced the closure of all 17 districts across the state Sunday.

Sisolak also said the Nevada Department of Education will work with specific districts to create food security plans for low-income students.

Sisolak said this was a difficult and high impact decision in support of social distancing because it will place a childcare burden on working parents. He expressed awareness that these closures will create hardships for Nevada families.

In the Clark County School District, which is the fifth largest in the nation, students were expected to be on spring break from April 3-10. In the second most populous district, Washoe County, students began their two-week break Friday.

Calif. Gov. Newsom Announces Significant Social Distancing Measures:

California Governor Gavin Newsom is calling for the closure of all bars and wineries, along with the home isolation of everyone 65 and older.

The Sacramento Bee is reporting that Newsom issued the sweeping restrictions on Sunday as a form of "deep social distancing" in order to be pragmatic in the state's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement is aimed at keeping people away from each other, but it did not go so far as to close restaurants. Newsom said that restaurants can operate at reduced capacity and utilize home deliveries and curbside service.

Fourth Coronavirus Case Identified In Washoe Co. On Saturday, March 14:

The Washoe County Health District has identified a fourth case of COVID-19 in the county.

According to health officials this fourth person is a presumptive positive case and awaits CDC confirmation. This new case in Washoe is a man in his twenties with no travel history outside of the area. And he’s not linked to the previous three identified COVID-19 cases in the county.

In a press conference Saturday, County Health Officer Kevin Dick said this new case is a community transmission, which could mean there’s a likelihood of other unidentified cases.

Health officials are advising people to take precautions like social distancing and frequent hand washing. Authorities are also advising the public against hoarding food and supplies, suggesting instead to purchase a few extra items when making store visits. The health district is also supporting community decisions to cancel or postpone group events.

Many Tahoe Ski Resorts Are Closing Due To Coronavirus:

Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company announced over the weekend that they are shuttering nearly 50 popular resorts. The Tahoe Daily Tribune is reporting that Vail will close its properties for seven days, starting Sunday, March 15, and then reevaluate the situation. Alterra’s closure will begin the same day but will be indefinite.

These closures impact Heavenly and Kirkwood on Tahoe’s South Shore, along with Northstar California and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows up north.

Mount Rose ski resort has also announced that it will close for the rest of the season due to public health concerns.

Washoe Co. Libraries Are Closed:

All Washoe County libraries are closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Washoe County library director said in a statement.

Get Caught Up

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Friday, March 13

9:52 p.m. PDT | March 13, 2020
By KUNR Staff

Nevada Reports New Presumptive Positive Cases On March 13:

One person in Washoe County, along with eight more people in Clark County, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the Southern Nevada and Washoe County Health Districts.

Officials said the patients range from their twenties through their sixties.

In Washoe County, the patient was identified as a woman in her twenties who recently traveled to Germany and France.

The Washoe County woman, and most of the Clark patients, are self-isolated at home. One man in his sixties is hospitalized and is in serious condition.

The Southern Nevada Health District did not release the status of two other men. Southern Nevada officials did not provide details on where most of the people may have contracted the virus from.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases in Nevada up to 20. Most of the tests are still waiting on confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

City Of Reno Declares State Of Emergency:

The City of Reno has declared a state of emergency. The Nevada Independent is reporting that with the declaration, the city will now have the ability to redirect funds for emergency use, create mutual aid agreements, ban large gatherings and establish a curfew. At this point, city leaders are still deciding how they may utilize the declaration.

Mountain West Cancels Spring Sports Competitions:

Statement from the Mountain West on March 12:

The Mountain West Board of Directors has now officially canceled all remaining spring sports competitions and MW championships. This decision follows the recent announcement from the NCAA to cancel all of its winter and spring championships. The MW Board had previously placed an indefinite suspension on these events. The MW Board has also established a moratorium on all on-campus and off-campus in-person recruiting activities for the foreseeable future. These changes are based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat and the ability to ensure the events do not contribute to the spread of the pandemic. The health and well-being of student-athletes, as well as the campus and general communities, is of utmost priority.

TMCC Moving To Online Instruction:

Truckee Meadows Community College is moving to alternate operations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. TMCC will have online instruction only, starting March 30. Classes will be delivered remotely, but all TMCC locations will remain open.

WCSD Postpones Athletics and Extracurriculars:

The Washoe County School District has announced that all school, district and non-district sponsored athletics are suspended, effective Monday, along with other extra-curricular activities, assemblies, and practices. All district-sponsored travel is also suspended.

In a statement released Friday, district officials said that it's important to note that there are no planned school closures at this time and that their goal is to keep schools open so that teaching and learning can continue. The district is heading into its two-week spring break, which runs from March 16-27.

Washoe Co. Suspends Non-Essential Meetings, Events:

Washoe County officials have decided to suspend all non-essential government events and business meetings. They released a statement on Friday saying their goal is “to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and to support the Washoe County Health District’s efforts to decrease the opportunity for disease transmission.”

This includes the Board of Commissioners meeting that was supposed to be on Tuesday, March 17. The statement also noted: “Washoe County leadership and staff are working to create alternative public meeting options for future meetings, and more information and updates will be forthcoming.”

Neighboring Placer Co. Closes Public Schools for Three Weeks:

The Placer Co. Office of Education released a statement on March 13, explaining that district administrators have decided to close all public schools and state preschools in Placer County for the next three weeks. The statement noted that “schools will be contacting families promptly about vital services and resources available to them throughout the closure including distance learning options and meals.”

The office is also recommending that families practice social distancing and protect vulnerable people, including senior citizens. “While children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from COVID-19, they are still able to transmit the virus to populations who are most vulnerable to serious illness, such as older adults and those with compromised immune systems. Be mindful in childcare decisions to avoid exposing vulnerable persons, such as grandparents, to children.”

Officials also urged families not to gather in places like shopping malls, movie theaters or community centers while schools are closed.

Who Can Get A COVID-19 Test In Washoe County?

6:47 p.m. PDT | March 13, 2020
By Bree Zender

Some people who have flu-like symptoms may not be sure if they should get tested for COVID-19. The Washoe County Health District has a set of criteria for who should be tested. The criteria the district sets is based on recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kevin Dick with the health district said testing criteria is based on a variety of factors, which may include the symptoms an individual is exhibiting, recent travel, or whether someone has been exposed to another person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Read more from this update.

Renown Sets Up Alternate Care Site To Evaluate Respiratory Illness

3:06 p.m. PDT | March 13, 2020
By Anh Gray

Entrance to a deployable medical facility at Renown Health in Reno
Credit Anh Gray / KUNR
Renown Health set up a deployable medical facility outside the emergency room on Mill Street to screen and evaluate patients with symptoms of respiratory illness. Patients with COVID-19 will not be treated in this area.

Governor Steve Sisolak declared a state or emergency to deal with the spread of coronavirus in Nevada on Thursday night. Health officials have identified 11 cases of COVID-19 in the state.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the country, Renown Health in downtown Reno recently set up a deployable medical facility. Providers can screen and evaluate patients with symptoms of respiratory illness in a tented area that serves as an extension of the emergency room.

Read more about this alternate care site.

Get Caught Up

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Thursday, March 12

10:02 p.m. PDT | March 12, 2020
By KUNR Staff

Emergency Declaration:

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak has declared a state of emergency in response to the growing concerns over the coronavirus. Sisolak made the announcement on Thursday evening in Las Vegas, only hours after health officials confirmed the eleventh case of the disease in Nevada.

Speaking at a press conference, Sisolak said the declaration is meant to help ease access to state and federal funding, and to help prevent the spread of the respiratory illness.

“I want to stress that declaring a state of emergency, while certainly a mark of the seriousness with which we are taking this effort, is not a reason to panic. This declaration is the first step to opening up access to our state's emergency resources," said Sisolak.

In addition to increased funding, the declaration activates the state's emergency operation center, which will centralize the response to the virus. The move also loosens regulations for government agencies to purchase food and other supplies.

UNR Goes Online:

The University of Nevada, Reno said students will not return to class after spring break. They will instead transition to online instruction, beginning March 23, due to COVID-19 concerns. The university made the announcement to faculty, staff and students in an email late Thursday afternoon.

While students may not be returning this semester, school officials said the university will remain open. According to the notice, the decision is part of a concerted effort to greatly reduce the collection of people on campus, in order to diminish the spread of the coronavirus.

As of Thursday, March 12, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus.

Carson Corona:

Health officials in Carson City said a 70-year-old woman is the third person in Northern Nevada to test presumptively positive for the coronavirus, bringing the state's total number of cases to 11.

According to Carson City health officials, the woman became sick after returning from a trip to San Jose earlier this month. She is currently self-isolating with her husband, both of who are being monitored daily.

Speaking at a press conference, Nicki Aaker, director of the Carson City Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters the district is not planning to take further action, like closing schools, at this time due to the circumstances of the infection.

"This is only one case and it is travel related. It's not spread in our community. Of course, at this time, we're not planning on advising [school closings], but we will continue to monitor the situation because the situation [can] change on a momentary basis."

In addition to the state's capital city, the Carson City Health District also provides services to Lyon, Douglas and Storey counties. Officials are continuing to ask residents to be mindful of their health and to take steps to prevent further infections.

More Southern Nevada Cases:

Officials from the Southern Nevada Health District said they have diagnosed three new presumptive positive cases in Clark County. No further details were announced.

This brings the total number of confirmed and presumptive cases in Nevada to eleven, with eight in Clark County.

Mountain West Sports Suspended:

The NCAA Mountain West Conference has suspended all spring sports indefinitely. This includes Nevada and UNLV teams. Conference officials said this is a move of caution to avoid possible spread of the coronavirus.

Teams that have qualified for the NCAA basketball tournament may still participate under the directions of their institution. The NCAA will have the final call on whether the tournament will go on or not.

NCAA officials have said the teams are set to play, but no fans will be allowed into the arenas.

Update: Clark County Case Numbers For March 12, 2020

11:24 a.m. PDT | March 12, 2020
Press Release By Southern Nevada Health District

The Southern Nevada Health District has received reports of three new presumptive positive cases in Clark County. These investigations are in the preliminary phase, and the Health District will provide additional information as it becomes available. Currently, the Health District is reporting eight cases in Clark County – seven presumptive positives and one that has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MEDIA: An update will be sent this afternoon. If new information is available, a media availability will be scheduled and a notification distributed as soon as possible.

Coronavirus In Northern Nevada Updates: Thursday, March 12

11:19 a.m. PDT | March 12, 2020
Updates From The University Of Nevada, Reno

UNR Preparation:

The office of the Provost at the University of Nevada, Reno sent an email to faculty Wednesday requesting that they prepare to go online with their instruction. That request is being made in case the university adopts alternate operations in the near future due to concerns about the coronavirus. The office is requesting that faculty finalize an instructional plan for all classes by March 30th or earlier. It was also noted that this timeline could be accelerated depending on unfolding circumstances. Faculty were also advised to offer flexibility to students by providing accommodations such as makeup exams and alternate assignments, in case work is missed due to illness.


The University of Nevada athletics department and UNLV released a joint statement Wednesday saying that upcoming spring season athletic competitions will only have game essential staff in attendance. Their statement said that "the health and safety of student athletes, coaches, staff and fans is the top priority." This includes all scheduled baseball and softball games, as well tennis matches.

Press Release By The Nevada Attorney General

Scam Warning:

Nevada's Attorney General Aaron Ford is warning consumers to be alert for scammers trying to take advantage of the fear being caused by the coronavirus. He released a statement saying that scammers may try to sell fake products or steal your money or personal information. Criminals could use social media, emails, and text messages to ask for to donations to false victim funds or to sell bogus products claiming to cure or prevent the virus. Ford says you should: Avoid clicking on links in emails or messages from people you don’t know. These links might download a virus, or redirect to a site that was created to steal your personal information. Also, make sure your anti-virus software is up to date. Be wary of emails and posts claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other experts. Up to date information will be provided on the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) websites; Be cautious of online promotions for vaccines, treatments, or cures for coronavirus. If there were a medical breakthrough, it would not be advertised for the first time through a sales pitch. Conduct research before donating to charities or crowdfunding websites. Do not be rushed into making a donation. Be particularly on guard for those asking for donations through wire transfer, gift card or exclusively cash.

Press Release By Renown Hospital

Renown Screening Tent

Renown Hospital is setting up a screening tent in the parking lot of its emergency department at its Mill Street location in Reno in preparation of the impact of COVID-19. The alternate care site will serve as an additional evaluation and screening center for patients with respiratory illness and will separate those patients in order to protect other patients and hospital staff. There are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus at Renown currently and the tent has not yet opened.