Coronavirus In Nevada: March 5-11

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

Southern Nevada Health District Announces Three New Positive Cases Of COVID-19
A Total Of Five Presumptive Positive Cases Reported In Clark County

1:52 p.m. PDT | March 11, 2020
Press Release By Southern Nevada Health District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LAS VEGAS – The Southern Nevada Health District is reporting three new presumptive positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to five cases in Clark County. All investigations are ongoing and additional information will be provided as it becomes available. Based on current information, close contacts of these individuals are being identified or have been notified and are following self-quarantine procedures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a close contact as someone who was within approximately 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time. Close contact can occur while caring for or living with someone. Health care workers who care for patients are also at higher risk.
 

New Case Updates

  • A female in her 40s who was hospitalized on March 8. She is isolated and in stable condition. This individual is a visitor from New York. She arrived in Las Vegas on March 5, and attended the Women of Power Summit at The Mirage. The Health District is working with the facility and conference organizers to inform attendees and to identify close contacts of this individual.
  • A male in his 60s who is isolating at home and is a close contact of a previously reported case.
  • A female in her 70s who is isolating at home and is a close contact of a previously reported case.

Previously Reported Case Updates

  • A male in his 50s with a travel history to Washington state. The patient remains hospitalized in serious condition.
  • A female in her 70s with underlying medical conditions with in-state travel history to Reno, Nev., and no out-of-state or international travel history. The patient was asymptomatic while traveling. The patient remains hospitalized in serious condition.

If a patient’s travel history dictates a notification to passengers that are not Clark County residents, this is determined and coordinated through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
 

The Health District is reminding the public that flu and other respiratory illnesses are circulating in Clark County. It is understandable that people who are sick may want to be tested for COVID-19. However, not everyone who feels ill needs to be tested. Health care providers or the Health District determine who should be tested based on an individuals specific symptoms and circumstances. People who have mild symptoms such as a cough or fever should stay home and away from other people.
 

The Health District is working with its health care and community partners to ensure there are strong public health measures in place to respond to COVID-19 in the community. Updates about COVID-19 are also available by calling the Health District’s Information Line at 702-759-INFO(4636) or 1-866-767-5038.
 

The public can help the response:

  • Do not go to the emergency department unless it is essential. Emergency departments need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
    • If you have a mild cough, fever, or other respiratory symptoms, contact your doctor first.
  • Practice everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Stay informed. The COVID-19 situation is changing frequently. Up to date information is available on the Health District website at www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/coronavirus or the CDC website at  www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Nevada Outlines Conditions For Safe And Secure Return Of Resident Cruise Ship Passengers
All Passengers Returning To Nevada Will Be Asymptomatic

9:13 p.m. PDT | March 10, 2020
By Michelle Billman

The CDC has confirmed that the first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus in Washoe County is positive. This is a man in his fifties who returned from a Grand Princess cruise ship in late February.

Washoe County health officials made the announcement Tuesday. They are still waiting for confirmation from the CDC regarding the second presumptive positive case in the county.

There are no additional presumptive positive cases at this point in Washoe.

Officials have also been concerned about a Grand Princess cruise ship that's in the San Francisco Bay area. They said that 49 passengers will be returning to Nevada and will be isolated in quarantine for 14 days after they arrive in the state. All of these passengers are asymptomatic at this time. All of them must agree to be tested for COVID-19 before they return to the state and they must agree to the self-isolation period.

There are more details on this situation in the press release below:

Press Release By Department of Health and Human Services
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO MEDIA - Timestamp: 1:47 p.m. PST | March 10, 2020

Carson City, NV – On Sunday, March 8th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contacted states, including Nevada, with notification that 21 passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This ship had been floating off the California coast since Thursday when those 21 passengers tested positive. We have received confirmation from federal authorities that the 49 passengers from Nevada are asymptomatic.
 

Since Sunday evening, state officials across the country have been working with federal agencies to coordinate the transportation of residents back to their respective home states for the required 14-day quarantine in lieu of sending them to military bases around the country, including Texas and Georgia. In an effort to identify an equivalent option in Nevada, Governor Sisolak directly contacted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Defense to ask if any military facilities in Nevada could be made available to isolate and monitor the returning passengers in a manner that also protects the health and safety of personnel at the bases. The federal government informed us that this was not feasible.
 

Over the last 36 hours, the Governor’s Office and Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have worked on contingency plans with local health authorities across the state to determine the safest and most secure plan to allow passengers from Nevada to return under conditions that could best safeguard not only their health and safety, but the health and safety of other Nevadans.
 

After extensive review and with the consensus of local health authorities, the Governor sent a letter last night to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response confirming the state’s decision to bring Nevada’s residents home, under specific conditions meant to protect both the possibly exposed passengers and other Nevadans. The conditions imposed include:

  • The passengers must be asymptomatic;
  • The passengers must be tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding the secure flight back to Nevada so the presumptive test results will be available for local health authorities;
  • Any passenger that refuses testing will remain under the supervision of the appropriate federal agency;
  • The passengers must be returned to the state in an isolated manner that limits exposure to the general public; and
  • These passengers will remain under the supervision of their respective local health authority for the 14-day isolation period immediately upon their return to Nevada

We have received confirmation from the federal government accepting all the conditions outlined above. Once testing samples have been collected, the 49 asymptomatic Nevadans will return home via secure air transportation provided by the federal government and will not enter any buildings of any commercial airport in the state. Local health authorities will arrange secure transportation from the airports to the passengers’ homes. In coordination with local health districts, each passenger will be required to sign a Declaration of Self Quarantine upon arrival, confirming they will physically separate and confine themselves from other people for a period of 14 days. The respective local health authorities will implement secure and isolated ground transportation for passengers that will ensure no exposure to surrounding communities. They will be securely returned to their homes for the mandatory 14-day isolation and monitoring period, under supervision of their local health districts.
 

Travel from California to Nevada is being managed by the federal government, and is subject to change on short notice. We will continue to keep Nevadans updated as we become aware of any significant changes to this plan.
 

No additional information will be provided that could result in the identification these passengers.

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Tuesday, March 10

9:27 a.m. PDT | March 10, 2020
By Anh Gray

Four people in Nevada have tested presumptively positive for COVID-19. Two of those cases are in Washoe County, and deemed by health officials to be travel-related cases.

Over the weekend, county health authorities recommended that the community curb travel plans in order to limit the spread of the virus.

Additionally, there are 15 residents from Carson City, Douglas and Lyon County returning from the Grand Princess cruise ship, which eventually docked in Oakland, California after several days of delay due to cases of COVID-19 aboard. Carson City Health and Human Services is following guidelines from the CDC to monitor those individuals for a 14-day-period. Overall, the state is working to repatriate 49 Nevadans from the cruise ship today (Tuesday).

In addition, there have been other community responses related to concerns about the coronavirus:

Yesterday (Monday), Renown Health announced a new policy to restrict visitors. The hospital will make some exceptions for extenuating circumstances, such as severe trauma. No visitors under the age of 12 will be permitted. Also, all volunteer operations at the hospital have been suspended.

The Washoe County School District has announced that it has canceled all out-of-state and all international district-sponsored travel for students and staff. This includes conferences and activities related to athletics and academics. Currently, in-state events will continue as scheduled. You can find more updates from the WCSD here.

The Reno Gazette-Journal is reporting that Patagonia closed all of its operations in Reno yesterday in response to an employee’s claim of being exposed to the coronavirus. The Washoe County Health District investigated the employee’s claim and later determined that the claim was “fabricated.”

Correction to Carson City Health and Human Services Press Release on March 9, 2020

8:25 p.m. PDT | March 9, 2020
Press Release By Department of Health and Human Services
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO MEDIA - Timestamp: 5:53 p.m. PST | March 9, 2020

Editor’s Note: KUNR posted the original press release provided by Carson City Health and Human Services on Monday, March 9 regarding the Nevada passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship. Since a correction was made to the press release, KUNR has removed it from our website and posted the updated version to ensure accurate information is shared.

Carson City, NV – Carson City Health and Human Services (CCHHS) prematurely issued a press release regarding Nevada passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship which has been under quarantine due to COVID-19.
 

The State of Nevada is coordinating with all local health districts to ensure that Nevadans on the ship who may need medical monitoring and services get the care they require, in addition to ensuring any plan has safeguards in place to protect our communities.
 

Some information contained in the CCHHS press release is inaccurate, and does not advance our shared interest in keeping Nevadans well-informed and safe.
 

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public and Behavioral Health will release accurate information once the details have been finalized with federal agencies.
 

More information of COVID-19 can be found at dpbh.nv.gov/coronavirus

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Washoe County Has Second Presumptive Positive Case Of COVID-19
Health District Is Identifying Close Contacts, Urges Continued Caution To Residents

 

11:02 a.m. PDT | March 8, 2020
Press Release By Washoe County Health District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reno, Nev. March 8, 2020. A second Washoe County resident has contracted COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus), the Washoe County Health District (WCHD) announced Sunday.
 

The case is a male in his 30s and he is isolated at home. His symptoms appeared after his only known travel, which was to Santa Clara, Calif. The case is considered a presumptive positive and will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation.
 

Due to medical privacy requirements and to protect their identity, further information about the case will not be released.
 

"Given the increase in cases across the nation and the world, and the increased local testing we’re conducting, it isn’t surprising to see an additional presumptive positive case," said Kevin Dick, District Health Officer for WCHD. "Washoe County residents should remain vigilant against this disease."
 

WCHD staff is identifying close contacts with the case as well as conducting community surveillance to determine possible spread in the community.
 

The best ways for people to reduce their risk of getting sick, and preventing COVID-19 are:
 

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, or tissue
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Try alternatives to shaking hands, like an elbow bump
  • There is no recommendation to wear masks at this time to prevent yourself from getting sick
  • If possible, work from home
  • For businesses, go here for cleaning information
     

More information of COVID-19 can be found at www.washoecounty.us/covid19 or by calling Washoe 311 (Dial 3-1-1).
 

MEDIA: Availability is at 1 p.m. today, Sunday, March 8, at the Washoe County Administration Complex, 1001 E. 9th Street, Building A, 9th Street doors near marriage license entrance, across the street from the Medical Examiners Office. Parking is available on 9th street. Complex gates are closed.

Washoe County Debuts ‘Drive-Thru’ COVID-19 Testing For People With Symptoms

2:02 p.m. PST | March 7, 2020
By Bree Zender

A nurse shows reporters the coronavirus testing kit. A demonstration was not offered because there are a limited number of tests currently available in the state.
Credit Bree Zender / KUNR Public Radio

Washoe County is streamlining its free coronavirus testing plan as they begin to request federal funding for more testing supplies.

At a Saturday press conference, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak said he is working with Nevada’s federal representatives and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to acquire funding.

On Friday, the County Health District began asking those who meet the testing criteria to do a ‘drive-thru’ test, located outside of their tuberculosis testing facility. Health officials said testing is not open to the general public. District officials said this drive-thru process reduces the risk of transmission, because it’s an open-air test done outdoors. People with suspected COVID-19 will stay in their cars with the window rolled down, as nurses administer the swab test.  

“It’s a two-step process. So one is of the throat,” said Charlene Albee, director of Washoe County's Environmental Health Services. “And the other one is a swab that goes up one side of the nostrils, up into the sinuses, and then pulls out. Then goes into the other side.”

The nurses are trained to test for tuberculosis, which is highly contagious. Washoe County health officials decided they would do a sufficient job at administering this test as well.
Credit Bree Zender / KUNR Public Radio

For the time being, tests will be administered from 9:00 a.m. through 1:00 p.m. At this point, Albee estimates they could administer six tests an hour. Then, all the day’s swabs are sent to the public health laboratory on the University of Nevada, Reno campus. The results should come out by 5:30 p.m. that day. 

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an $8 billion emergency preparedness bill, which will send money to local, state and tribal agencies, to respond to possible coronavirus outbreaks. Albee said it’s not clear yet how much money the county will get.

“We were asked to put a budget together and submit it,” Albee said. “And it was right around $900,000, [which] is our best guess at this point in time. We have put out a call for resources to get more test kits here."

On Saturday, Sisolak said that he has been in contact with U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen to secure federal funding with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The governor’s office is also working to set up COVID-19 testing at private health laboratories throughout the state.  

Nurses wait at a virus testing station in Reno, Nev. shortly before people who are suspected to have COVID-19 arrive.
Credit Bree Zender / KUNR Public Radio

Nevada currently has two presumptive positive coronavirus cases, pending confirmation from the CDC. One Washoe County man likely contracted the virus on a trip to Mexico on the Grand Princess cruise ship in February, according to county officials. People who have been in contact with him, as well as people who are known to have been near outbreaks, are currently being screened for symptoms and tested. Placer County, California announced the death of one of its residents on Wednesday from the virus, after likely contracting it on that same cruise ship. Nevada officials said there were 40 state residents on the ship, and public health workers are tracking them down to screen for symptoms, and possibly test them if they meet the current standard.

On Friday, the Washoe County School District shut down Huffaker Elementary School, as the presumptive patient in the county had a family member who attends the school. Multiple students had flu-like symptoms, but health officials said testing conducted on Friday came back negative for COVID-19.

Editor's Note: A sentence in this post was altered to more clearly reflect the time of death and residency of the Placer County resident.

Nevada Cruise Ship Passengers Being Evaluated
State Of Nevada Grateful To Local Health Authorities For Swift Action Upon Notification

9:51 a.m. PST | March 7, 2020
Press Release By Nevada Department of Health and Human Services
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO MEDIA - Timestamp: 7:05 p.m. PST | March 6, 2020

Carson City, NV – Forty Nevadans who were passengers on the Grand Princess cruise ship are being contacted by health authorities to assess their health and any symptoms that may be consistent with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
 

The passengers disembarked from the ship on Feb. 21.
 

The case that was announced as a presumptive positive through the Washoe County Health District was a passenger on the ship which also included passengers from other states who have since tested positive for COVID-19.
 

The patient, a male in his 50s, is reported in stable condition and self-isolating at home.
 

On March 4th and 5th the State was notified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Nevada passengers and local health authorities responded immediately to contact and assess all passengers for sign of illness.
 

“Our local health authorities continue to show that they are dedicated to the health of our communities, and the State is grateful for their swift response to connect with these passengers to assess their health,” said Richard Whitley, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
 

About Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19):
 

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, runny nose and/or sore throat. However, limited information is available to characterize the spectrum of clinical illness associated with this illness.

Based on what has been seen previously during respiratory disease outbreaks caused by coronavirus, it is believed that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear anytime between two and 14 days after exposure. At this time, it is unclear how easily or sustainably COVID-19 is spreading between people. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, but like any respiratory viral illness it is recommended to practice good health hygiene habits.
 

To prevent the spread of flu and viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

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COVID-19 Testing Results For Huffaker Students Come Back Negative
Negative Results Include Family Member Of Resident Who Was A Presumptive Positive For COVID-19

10:08 p.m. PST | March 6, 2020
Press Release By Washoe County Health District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reno, Nev. March 6, 2020. The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) conducted COVID-19 testing Friday and all tests came back negative including all students at Huffaker Elementary School who were tested. The negative result includes the family member (a Huffaker student) of the resident who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.
 

“We are relieved that we received no additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 today,” District Health Officer Kevin Dick said. “The Health District and Washoe County School District (WCSD) took extreme precaution by closing the school on Friday to prevent anyone from contracting the virus. I appreciate the cooperative effort of the School District to ensure the safety of those children and other members of our community.”
 

A statement from Kristen McNeill, Interim Superintendent, Washoe County School District:
 

“Parents, students and staff can rest assured that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Huffaker Elementary School,” McNeill said. “We want to thank the Health District for their diligent work to ensure safety of our students and staff. I’m pleased to report that Huffaker will be open on Monday.”
 

As of right now, there is still only one presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Washoe County. For more information on COVID-19, please call Washoe 311 (dial 3-1-1) or go to our COVID-19 webpage.

First COVID-19 Case In Washoe County: Prompts One School In South Reno To Close

6:52 p.m. PST | March 6, 2020
Updated 9:20 a.m. PST | March 7, 2020
By Anh Gray and Stephanie Serrano

Editor's Note: The Washoe County Health District reported the first presumptive positive COVID-19 case on Thursday, March 6. Health officials did not provide specific details about the individual's family, but said that he had family at Huffaker Elementary School.

Serrano: Bring us up to speed about the new cases of COVID-19 in Nevada.

Gray: The first "presumptive positive" case in Washoe comes on the heels of the first presumptive positive case in Clark County, Nevada. Both were announced yesterday [Thursday, March 5]. The Southern Nevada Health District announced their case in the morning and Washoe County Health District announced theirs later that evening. [Nevada] went from having zero cases, to learning we have two presumptive positive cases. Presumptive positive cases mean that an individual received a positive test in the state, but then the sample is then sent to the CDC for confirmation. 

Serrano: What exactly do we know about these individuals? 

Gray: Let me start with the Washoe case. Local health authorities report that that person is a male in his fifties. They say the case is travel related. He is linked to the Grand Princess cruise ship and it is unclear at this point when he returned to Washoe County. Health officials do tell us that he is in stable condition and is self-quarantining at home. As far as the Clark County case is concerned, it is also a man in his fifties and he traveled to Washington and Texas, and those two states have reported the presence of COVID-19 in their communities. The Southern Nevada Health District has informed us that that person is hospitalized and in isolation. 

Gray: I know you attended the Washoe County Health District press conference this morning [Friday, March 6] where they were providing more information about the new case. What did you learn?

Serrano: The person who tested presumptive positive also had family members at Huffaker Elementary School. This meant that the school shut down [Friday, March 6]. Parents received information that the school was closing to deep clean last night and deep clean again. Several students had been experiencing flu-like symptoms, which means now they will also be tested for COVID-19. Kevin Dick with the Washoe County Health District said the department worked closely with the school district to close the school out of caution and reiterated that there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the school.

The people who are being tested are being asked to self-quarantine. 

Serrano: Anh, you spoke to a mom from Huffaker's Elementary School. What did she have to say?

Gray: The mom that I spoke to, her name is Hailey Spencer. She has a 3-year-old daughter who attends preschool at Huffaker and she said that she did receive a message from the school yesterday saying that they had some concerns about the stomach flu among students at the school. She then received another email message saying that there were concerns about some students exhibiting flu-like symptoms, and then it was later on in the evening that she received a call saying that the school would be closed today. And because there were those various messages, each one mentioning different types of illnesses, she said it was a little bit confusing and had some concerns.

"I would appreciate a more clear answer on what is going on," Spencer said. "I know that they are sanitizing, but what are their plans in the future if any more kids come up sick? The school bus situation, how they are going to handle that, and the playground equipment, are they sanitizing all of that? I would just like more of a clear answer from them and I feel like they are trying not to scare everyone, which I understand, but the parents deserve to know exactly what is going on and what they are planning on doing for the future.” 

Serrano: I checked in with school district officials. They said the health district is taking the lead on the situation. Anh, what else do we need to know?

Gray: The Washoe County Health District’s health officer, Kevin Dick, did say that they would be testing some members that may have been in contact with that individual and will update the community once information is available. Kevin Dick also reported that there were other Reno residents that were on the Grand Princess cruise ship, so they will be monitoring that situation and updating the public as necessary. I also want to note in neighboring Placer County, there's been reports, too, that there are other residents in that community who were on that same cruise ship, and there was one reported death in Placer County linked to a passenger on that cruise ship. It really is an evolving situation and we will be learning more information in the next days and weeks.  

Washoe County Health District COVID-19 Infographic

4:08 p.m. PST | March 6, 2020
By Washoe County Health District

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Elementary School In Reno Closes, Multiple Students Tested For COVID-19

12:27 p.m. PST | March 6, 2020
By Bree Zender

Multiple students with flu-like symptoms at Huffaker Elementary School are being tested for COVID-19, according to the Washoe County Health District.

Officials said no student cases have been confirmed at this hour.

This comes after a family member of a student tested presumptively positive for the coronavirus, pending confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient is a man in his 50s, quarantined at home, and is in stable condition.

County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said the patient was aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship. Multiple passengers and crewmembers on board the boat have tested positive for the virus.

"I think the positive news at this point is that this is a travel-related case that we've identified, and that we have not yet identified any community transmission," Dick said.

Huffaker Elementary School was closed today out of caution. The health district is advising everyone to frequently and thoroughly wash your hands, and stay home if you feel sick.

Washoe County Has Presumptive Case Of COVID-19
Huffaker Elementary School Closed Friday Out Of An Abundance Of Caution

10:30 p.m. PST | March 5, 2020
Press Release By Washoe County Health District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reno, Nev. March 5, 2020. The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) has received a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), the first in Washoe County. The test has been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.
 

The case is a male resident in his 50s who is linked to the Grand Princess cruise ship outbreak. His condition is stable and he is self isolating at home.
 

The case has a family member who is a student at Huffaker Elementary School in Reno, Nev. Out of an abundance of caution, the Health District requested that Huffaker Elementary School be closed on Friday, March 6. The Washoe County School District has informed parents of the closure.
 

There are no confirmed cases at Huffaker Elementary.
 

“The Health District’s top priority right now is to investigate this case and identify close contacts,” said Kevin Dick, District Health Officer for the Washoe County Health District. “Our staff is working with the school district to help ensure safety for students and faculty at Huffaker, as well as the community. Additional information will be released as we learn more.
 

“We cannot stress enough that the most important thing people can do to prevent contracting COVID-19 is to practice social distancing, wash your hands with water and soap frequently, cough and sneeze into your sleeve and stay home if you’re sick. We ask that you inform family and friends of these preventive measures.”
 

While this is as serious public health threat, the immediate risk to the general public in Washoe County and the United States remains low at this time.
 

The public is encouraged to go to www.washoecounty.us/covid19 for updated information.

Response To Coronavirus In Placer County

5:42 p.m. PST | March 5, 2020
By Andrew Mendez

One person died Wednesday from the coronavirus in Placer County, California, where a local and state-wide health emergency has been declared.

Doctor Aimee Sisson is the Placer County health officer. She said the patient tested positive on Tuesday and was at an increased risk due to underlying health conditions and age. 

“While we are not at the point where I would consider canceling events, closing schools or requiring widespread social distancing measures, we do want the public to prepare for that possibility,” Sisson said.

Ten health care workers and five first responders were in direct contact with the patient and are under quarantine and not exhibiting symptoms. 

Officials said the patient was symptomatic while on a cruise from San Francisco to Mexico, and was admitted to Kaiser Permanente in Roseville, California last week.   

Public health officials advise vulnerable people to stay at home as much as possible, wash hands on a regular basis and minimize contact with people and common surfaces.

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Public Funding, Staff Low To Respond To Coronavirus In Washoe County

4:19 p.m. PST | March 5, 2020
By Bree Zender

Nevada now has one case of “presumptive” coronavirus in Southern Nevada. In order to find out what you can do to prepare here in Northern Nevada, KUNR’s Bree Zender spoke with Dr. Randall Todd, the director of epidemiology at the Washoe County Health District.

Zender: If you're starting to feel some flu-like symptoms, at what point should you reach out to your doctor? 

Todd: Well, certainly if you're feeling ill and you think it could be this, call your doctor's office. I would say don't just show up there. Call first, let them know and then they would advise on when you should come. They might want to meet you in the parking lot with a mask, so that you don't come in and expose the staff and other patients in the waiting room to something like this. So it's important to just be in communication with your health care provider.

Zender: In terms of testing kits, do we have any available here in Washoe County? 

Todd: The federal government has made some testing kits available to the state public health laboratory, which is located here on the campus of UNR. This is for the whole state, so it's not just for Washoe County. It's not even just for Northern Nevada. We don't know how far those might stretch if we started to have to use them, but it's good to know they're here. 

Zender: How has the district coordinated with other agencies about coronavirus so far? 

Todd: We have been talking with the Washoe County School District. We've been talking with Washoe County Emergency Management. We've been talking with various law enforcement agencies, fire agencies. There's almost no entity that you could think of that we haven't been in communication with. [We’re] wanting to let them know that we're here to help, and we are hoping that they're here to help as well.

Zender: We have a large Spanish speaking community here in Northern Nevada. Is there outreach that has been done to keep them informed as well? 

Todd: We've been working toward developing translations of some of our educational material that we're putting on our website. So that's available in both English and Spanish.

Zender: An outbreak at an assisted living facility near Seattle, Washington has left several people dead from the coronavirus. What can we learn from that situation?

Todd: Well, if we were to see an outbreak in a facility here in Washoe County, we would be taking steps to try to make sure that the people who've been exposed are being closely monitored, so that if they actually develop the disease, contacts with them can be limited, so that it doesn't spread any further than maybe it already has.

Zender: In other areas throughout the world, there [have] been outbreaks. In Wuhan, China, [residents] have been quarantined for quite some time, some weeks, due to their outbreaks that they're having there. Do you think that might be in the realm of possibilities here in Washoe County? 

Todd: There are different levels of quarantine. If we were to start to see human cases here, we would most likely want to at least isolate people who are considered to be contagious to others, so that they don't pass it along. Depending on their home situation, isolating them at home may or may not be the best option. If they have people in the home who are susceptible, that would not necessarily be a good idea. So they might need to be in a facility of some sort.

Zender: So quarantine on an individual level, rather than blanket coordinating? 

Todd: Yes. 

Zender: There's a lot of people talking about what's going on with coronavirus or COVID-19. Are there any misconceptions about the virus that you're hearing about that you would like to clear up?

Todd: Well, I think there are people that think it's just another version of the flu, because the symptoms are rather similar. But it's not the flu. It's a different disease. It's caused by a different virus. We want people to take appropriate precautions to not contract this, because [the] level of seriousness is still somewhat unknown. This didn't jump the species barrier all that long ago, and so the full ramifications are not completely known to us. 

Zender: In recent years, funding for public health in Nevada has been awfully low. Will there be any funding to respond to a possible outbreak? And where would that come from? 

Todd: Well, public health funding in Nevada has always been too low. We rank near the bottom of the states. If you were to list all the states by how much public health funding they get, Nevada is going to be at or near the bottom of that list. So I do understand that the federal government is working on identifying some funding that can be made available to states, to help them in their efforts to combat and control this disease. And so we're looking forward to that. 

Zender: Do you know how much that might be? Or is that still up in the air?

Todd: I don't know. 

Zender: So where's the health district and health care providers at in terms of staffing and in response to a possible outbreak? Do you think we are adequately staffed to have something like that happen? 

Todd: Well, I think right now, it's somewhat marginal for [the health district]. We're letting some things go because we're having to focus on this, but we try to prioritize and still deal with the most important issues. Now, if we started to see actual cases and things started to really get going, we would not be adequately staffed. So we'd have to be looking to get some additional help. 

Zender: Would that come from the federal government? 

Todd: Well, I would think that the money would come from the federal government.

Zender: Where would the extra staff come from? 

Todd: We would probably just have to put out a notice publicly that we're hiring. 

Zender: So there’s been other coronaviruses out there, like SARS, the outbreak in the early 2000s. What have we learned from those outbreaks that we can apply to [this] coronavirus?

Todd: Well, I think we've learned that these are illnesses, that at least for the ones that we've dealt with, can be controlled. And we're hopeful that this new one is also going to be able to be controlled. We don't know that just yet. So we're going to learn a lot more in the coming weeks and months.

Zender: As an infectious disease professional, is there anything that concerns you about coronavirus? 

Todd: What mostly concerns me about this is what we still don't know about it. We don't know if it's going to be more serious than the ones we've dealt with previously. We don't know if the people who have minimal symptoms are very infectious. So that would be an important thing to find out. So it's a little bit disconcerting when there's probably more things that we don't know than that we do know.

Southern Nevada Health District Announces Positive Case Of COVID-19 In A Clark County Resident

10:50 a.m. PST | March 5, 2020
Press Release By Southern Nevada Health District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LAS VEGAS – The Southern Nevada Health District is announcing the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a Clark County resident. Test results are considered “presumptive positive” until the result is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient is a male in his 50s who is hospitalized and currently in airborne isolation.
 

The patient reported a recent travel history to Washington state, where community spread of the virus is being reported, and Texas, which recently reported its first travel-associated case. The Health District is working with its health care partners and leading the effort to quickly identify close contacts of the patient.
 

While the COVID-19 outbreak is as serious public health threat, the immediate risk from the virus to the general public in Clark County and the United States remains low at this time.
 

The Health District will provide additional updates as more information becomes available.
 

The public can help the response:

  • Do not go the emergency department unless it is essential. Emergency departments need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
    • If you have a mild cough, fever, or other respiratory symptoms, contact your doctor first.
  • Practice everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Stay informed. The COVID-19 situation is changing frequently. Up to date information is available on the Health District website at www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/coronavirus or the CDC website at  www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

How Coronavirus Testing In Nevada Is Performed

10:07 a.m. PST | March 5, 2020
By Anh Gray

The Southern Nevada Health District has announced the first "presumptive positive" case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in a Clark County resident. Test results are considered presumptive positive until the result is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient is a male in his 50s, who is hospitalized and currently in airborne isolation." 

In a new press release, Washoe County Health District officials are stating that “health care facilities are being inundated with calls and patients arriving at their locations unannounced.” The district is advising residents with symptoms to contact their medical provider for guidance. The Washoe County Health District is advising residents with symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty breathing to call their medical provider for guidance or use a telemedicine option if it's available. If residents do not have any symptoms, health officials are asking residents to not contact their medical provider.

The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory is located at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine. The lab is charged with testing for the novel coronavirus. KUNR’s Anh Gray spoke with Dr. Mark Pandori, who’s the director of the lab, to learn more about testing in the community.

Editor's Note: The interview with Dr. Mark Pandori took place on Wednesday, March 4, before the first presumptively positive case of COVID-19 in Nevada was reported.

Gray: Do you have information, if people exhibit symptoms, where they're supposed to go? Are those test kits available to providers in the community? Who are the ones that have them?

Pandori: If you feel very ill, you will see your clinician, and your clinician would then decide or ascertain by asking questions whether or not you might be at risk for coronavirus. If you're symptomatic and they don't have any risk ascertained, they may run a few lab tests to see if you have anything which is circulating right now, because it is flu season and cold season. So you might have something more common, or that were at least something that we more commonly deal with.

And if you are negative for that, it's possible that your case would be discussed with public health. If public health agreed that testing was warranted, the public health laboratory here at the School of Medicine on the UNR campus, the state public health lab for Nevada, can run the test. The good news is that that specimen is very likely going to be the same specimen that is possible to use to test for influenza or for the cold or for other respiratory diseases.

That test for COVID-19 would then come to the state public health lab and we would perform the test there, but that specimen collection would occur right there in the doctor's office, and we have a network of couriers that would facilitate that.

Gray: What does that mean, a network of couriers?

Pandori: A network of people who can retrieve the specimen from the doctor's office and take it to the state public health lab in a car, for example.

Gray: And that's where you come in.

Pandori: Correct. The Southern health district has a laboratory in Clark County that would serve Clark County. The state public health lab here at the University of Nevada School of Medicine campus is the public health lab for the entire state of Nevada. But there is testing available in Clark County.

Gray: So basically, people get swabbed at a clinician's office. If the test comes back negative for other types of illnesses and the clinician decides maybe we need to see if this is coronavirus, a courier will come take the specimen to your lab. Your lab will analyze it. How long does it take to get the results? And what will that trigger once you get that information?

Pandori: When the lab receives the specimen, so that's brought to our laboratory, it would take our lab between three and four hours to generate a result as to whether or not the coronavirus 2019 is present or not in that specimen.

If it was negative, we would share that result with the clinician and with public health. If it was positive, we would also share that result with the clinician, who ordered the test, and with public health officials. If it was positive, we would then send that specimen to CDC to confirm it.

Gray: Have you ever seen anything like this before?

Pandori: Yes. This shares many of the same dimensions, in different ways, and I don't mean to minimize this, I don't mean to say we've seen this all before because you'd never take an attitude like that for something this serious. But in terms of the kind of virus that it is and how it spreads, in 2009, you may recall we had what was initially called swine influenza, now known as the pandemic H1N1 strain. And that's actually become a normal strain in the community of influenza, but at first, you may recall that we were dealing with what we thought were very high death rates from that strain of influenza. We saw that it started in another country, and then it spread, and then we started to see cases in community spread here in the United States. In that regard, it's almost identical, for all the features that I just laid out to that 2009 thing that we dealt with.

But in many ways also, it's similar to Ebola, which we had a few years ago. With that, we had, again, something that started in another country. It started to be seen in other countries throughout the world, and the death rate is very high, much higher for Ebola, I have to say parenthetically. In those two instances, we were dealing with something similar in terms of scope and in terms of dynamics.