Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Live Blog

Mar 24, 2020

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Thursday, March 26

9:19 p.m. | March 26, 2020
By Paul Boger

Nevada Cases Surpass 500

 

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nevada jumped by 115 on Thursday, bringing the statewide total to 535. That’s according to a late-night update of the state’s coronavirus dashboard. 

In Washoe County, health district officials say 10 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 -- bringing the total number of cases in the county to 67. 

10 people in Nevada have died from the disease, all of them in Clark County. 

In California, the number of confirmed cases has climbed past 4,000 with 83 deaths, according to an LA Times tracker.

 Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Thursday, March 26

8:19 p.m. | March 26, 2020
By Paul Boger

Washoe Cases Rise To 67

The Washoe County Health District said 10 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 67.

In an excerpt from Thursday’s statement, district officials explained:

The Washoe County Health District understands that residents are concerned about the lack of COVID-19 testing in our community. The Health District, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the State of Nevada, is only testing those who are the highest risk of having COVID-19 and spreading COVID-19.
 

Widespread community testing is not realistic because we currently do not have the capacity or supplies to collect samples from, or perform a COVID-19 test on, everyone in Washoe County. In addition, a negative COVID-19 test result does not prevent you from contracting the disease later on. Taking extreme safety precautions to prevent contracting COVID-19 is much more effective than outright community testing at this time.
 

We ask that people “Stay Home For Nevada,” wash hands often with soap and water, avoid touching your face, avoid contact with people who are sick and cough or sneeze into your sleeve. Click here for more info. We will continue to conduct drive-through testing for high-risk residents and work with our local hospitals to conduct as many sample collections as possible.

These updates are now being sent by the COVID-19 Regional Information Team, which has a website that includes a dashboard that details how many cases there are in Washoe County.

Washoe Health Officer Says Federal Supply Of PPE Is “Almost Completely Lacking”

Health officials in Washoe County said there’s a shortage of supplies needed to fight COVID-19 across the state and that’s leading to some stiff competition.

During Thursday’s Washoe County District Board of Health meeting, District Health Officer Kevin Dick said the state has not received the amount of personal protective equipment it’s requested from the federal government.

“The federal supply chain is almost completely lacking, as far as a resource for us for these requests, and so it’s commercial procurement [that] seems to be the route that’s available,” Dick said. “We’re in a position where states are competing amongst each other to try and get those limited supplies.”

Dick said that competition for supplies even extends to local hospitals and entities. Officials are actively looking for more supply options and encouraging any individual or business to donate extra masks, gloves or other equipment by calling 3-1-1.

Washoe Schools Prepare For Distance Learning

The Washoe County School District will begin making its distance learning lesson plans available to parents and students starting Friday.

According to the district, lesson plans will be made and presented digitally, but physical paper packets are available for students without Internet access.

While the packets will not be graded by teachers, the district's Chief Academic Officer Debbie Biersdorff told reporters the packets are important for student success when schools reopen.

"We are highly encouraging families to look at the materials; encourage students to get on some kind of a daily schedule,” she said. “We are trying to provide as much normalcy as we can without the actual classroom teacher or teachers."

All schools in Nevada will remain closed until April 16 in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

District officials said they are prepared to extend distance learning until schools reopen, however long that takes.

3:12 p.m. | March 26, 2020
By Paul Boger

COVID-19 Cases In Nevada Jump To 420

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Nevada with statewide totals now at 420 across seven counties.

Health officials in Washoe County reported seven new cases of the novel coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total in that county to 57. Four people in Washoe have since recovered.

There are also two new cases in the Quad Counties area of Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey Counties. That brings the area's total number of cases to eight.

Ten people in the state have died from the disease, all of them in Southern Nevada.

Health officials in California are reporting more than 3,200 confirmed cases, including an uptick in the number of cases in the Eastern Sierra.

According to an LA Times tracker, there are 45 COVID-19 patients spread across nine counties: 30 in Placer, seven in Nevada County, four in Mono, three in El Dorado and one in Inyo County. There are no reported cases in Lassen, Sierra, Plumas and Alpine Counties.

Tens Of Thousands Of Nevadans File For Unemployment

More than 93,000 Nevadans filed initial unemployment claims last week, up more than 1,300 percent from the previous week.

The figures released Thursday by the Department of Labor show that roughly 2.9 million Americans filed initial unemployment claims last week. It's the highest number of seasonally unadjusted unemployment claims on record, nearly five times higher than the previous record set in 1982.

It's also the first set of unemployment numbers released since Governor Steve Sisolak ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses on March 17.

According to The Nevada Independent, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation has received “unprecedented volumes” of demand for unemployment insurance.

The department acknowledged this week that some people are struggling to reach staff by phone and that it's continuing to add resources daily to try and meet demand.

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Wednesday, March 25

6:42 p.m. | March 25, 2020
By Noah Glick

New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Washoe County

The Washoe County Health District reported seven new cases of COVID-19 in the county, bringing the total to 57 across Washoe County. That’s in addition to the first reported case in Lyon County and the third confirmed case in Douglas County.

Washoe County Prepares For Uptick In Hospitalizations

Washoe County is preparing for a possible surge in people needing hospital care because of the effects of COVID-19.

Officials with the Washoe County Health District said they don’t know exactly when this rush in cases will occur, but they are expecting it may happen within the next “few weeks.”

Incident Commander Sam Hicks said the county has put in orders for equipment for health care workers, like portable showers and handwashing stations. However, Hicks said orders for personal protective equipment like N95 face masks, gloves, gowns and face shields have not yet been filled.

“I don’t want to say that orders have been denied. That gives the wrong connotation,” Hicks said. “The orders have not been filled because we can’t find the materials to fill the order or something that’s compatible and meets the needs of the order.”

The county is also looking at possibly finding other places to care for patients outside of the hospital, in case hospitals run out of space. However, the Health District would not name any particular sites of interest.

COVID-19 Impacting Government Revenue

Governments across Nevada are bracing for a sudden drop in tax revenues as a result of the social distancing measures enacted by Gov. Steve Sisolak.

During a city council meeting, Wednesday, Reno Finance Director Deborah Lauchner told city leaders fiscal projections show revenue losses could be significant.

"When you look at what Goldman Sachs is saying, you're going to start seeing a recovery in the third and fourth quarter,” Lauchner said. “But if you look, the third and fourth quarter doesn’t equate to the second quarter decrease."

Sales and gaming taxes are the two largest sources of tax money in Nevada, and revenues have suffered tremendously since measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 went into effect last week.

Budget staffers said the city could tap into its stabilization fund and institute a strict hiring freeze for the rest of the current budget year to help offset the shortfall.

Nevada Officially Restricts Pharmaceutical Hoarding

The Nevada State Board of Pharmacy officially released emergency regulations restricting the prescribing and stockpiling of two malaria drugs that are being falsely touted as a cure for COVID-19.

Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine are used for legitimate medical purposes but have not been proven to be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Governor Steve Sisolak released a statement saying that the new regulations prohibit any distribution of these drugs for any new diagnoses and are an effort to maintain an appropriate level of supplies for those who need these medications.

New Homeless Services Division To Help Vulnerable Deal With COVID-19

The Washoe County COVID-19 Incident Management Team announced the creation of a new Homeless Services Division to help provide essential services to those experiencing homelessness during this pandemic.

Officials said they’ve temporarily placed 19 portable restrooms with hand sanitizers across the county.

Nevada Extends Social Welfare Benefits

The Nevada Welfare Division announced Wednesday it is extending benefits for existing clients by at least two months. That includes people currently enrolled in Medicaid and/or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

This impacts those who have benefits that were scheduled to close on April 1 or May 1.

In a statement, Administrator Steve Fisher said, “The best way to stay informed about your case is to look online through Access Nevada,” and “we are confident that this extension will provide some breathing room for the people we serve.”

More information can be found at the Division of Welfare and Supportive Services website.

Secretary Cegavske Announces Plan To Conduct The June 9, 2020 Primary Election By All Mail

1:51 p.m. | March 25, 2020
Press Release By Nevada Secretary Of State
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | Dated March 24, 2020

(Carson City, NV; March 24, 2020) – Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, in partnership with Nevada’s 17 county election officials, announces today plans to conduct an all-mail election for the June 9, 2020 primary election. All active registered voters in Nevada will be mailed an absentee ballot for the primary election. No action or steps, such as submitting an absentee ballot request application, will be required by individual voters in order to receive a ballot in the mail. Voters will be able to mark their ballot at home and then return it by mail using a postage-prepaid envelope or by dropping it off in person at a designated county location. This announcement applies only to the June 9, 2020 primary election.
 

Secretary Cegavske seeks to reassure voters in Nevada that their health and safety while participating in voting is paramount to state and local election officials. “Because of the many uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the immediate need to begin preparations for the 2020 primary election, it became necessary for me to take action regarding how the election will be conducted,” said Cegavske. “Based on extensive conversations with Nevada’s 17 county election officials, we have jointly determined that the best option for the primary election is to conduct an all-mail election.”
 

In order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, federal and state health officials have discouraged group gatherings. The training of thousands of poll workers who support Nevada’s large in-person voter effort was scheduled to begin next week. The majority of Nevada’s poll workers belong to groups that are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19. In order to maintain a high level of access to the ballot, while protecting the safety of voters and poll workers, the decision to conduct an all-mail primary election was made.
 

Even though the majority of voters will be casting a mail ballot for the June 9, 2020 primary election, the high standard Nevada has set for ensuring the security, fairness, and accuracy of elections will still be met. Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Thorley said, “The priority of the Secretary of State’s Elections Division is to ensure every eligible Nevadan has the opportunity to safely vote in the primary election and that the integrity of the election is maintained. We are working with our 17 county election officials to implement the changes necessary to successfully administer this election.”
 

In order to accommodate same-day voter registration, as well as assist voters who have issues with the ballot that was mailed to them, at least one in-person polling location will be available in each county for the June 9, 2020 primary election. These polling locations will be set up to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers alike. Because in-person voting opportunities will be extremely limited for the primary election, Nevadans are encouraged to register to vote now and not rely on the same-day registration process. Voters are also encouraged to confirm that their voter registration information is up-to-date, including mailing address and political party affiliation. Visit www.RegisterToVoteNV.gov to register to vote online or make updates to your existing voter record.
 

Voters are reminded that absentee ballots must be dropped off in person by the close of polls on Election Day, or postmarked by Election Day. Ballots that are postmarked by Election Day and received no later than seven days after the election will be counted. Additionally, if a voter fails to sign the ballot return envelope or the voter’s signature does not match the one on file with the county election official, the voter will be contacted, and the voter will have up to the seventh day after the election to make the necessary correction. It is important to understand that these statutory deadlines will result in updating vote totals and election results for up to seven days after the election. Close races may remain undecided until all ballots are counted. All counties must certify the election results no later than 10 days after the election.
 

For more information about the June 9, 2020 primary election, please contact the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at (775) 684-5705 or nvelect@sos.nv.gov.

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Wednesday, March 25

1:27 p.m. | March 25, 2020
By Noah Glick

Lyon County Gets First Confirmed COVID-19 Case

Lyon County now has its first confirmed case of COVID-19. According to Carson City Health and Human Services, the person is male, in his 60s, and recently traveled to the Bay Area.

The agency also reported a new confirmed case in Douglas County, for three total in that county.

That brings the statewide total of cases to more than 300, with six confirmed deaths from the virus. All the deaths so far have been in Clark County.

Nevadans Confident About Handling Of COVID-19

An overwhelming majority of Nevadans said they’re concerned about COVID-19, but most said Governor Steve Sisolak is handling the situation well.

That’s according to a poll taken Monday from the Retail Association of Nevada.

The group polled nearly 400 Nevadans who were employed as of March 1, to see how they feel about a variety of things in the midst of this pandemic. It found that most Nevadans support Gov. Sisolak’s decision to close K-12 schools, non-essential businesses and other public places. But they admit that comes with an economic cost.

“So we have a situation where folks believe that they will be spending more as a result, but they’re very worried that they’re going to be earning less during this time period,” said Brian Wachter, director of government and public affairs for the organization.

Overall, Nevadans have been happy with the response from local retailers to keep shelves stocked and supplies on hand. But 91% said if people bought only what they needed, there would be enough supplies for everyone.

BLM Announces Closure Of Popular Recreation Area

The Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday an emergency closure of public lands at Sand Mountain Recreation Area southeast of Fallon.

BLM law enforcement will be patrolling the area during the temporary closure.

The 4,808-acre area is a popular ATV destination with the largest single sand dune in the Great Basin.

New Way To Access Library Books While Quarantined

The Washoe County Library is looking to offer relief to people stuck at home. On Wednesday, it announced that it has implemented a new instant digital card for people who have yet to sign up for a library card to access e-books, audiobooks and other online resources.

The service is free to the community.

The new digital cards will work as soon as someone registers online and will remain active until libraries re-open.

Governor Sisolak Signs Emergency Regulation Restricting Drug Distribution During COVID-19

11:41 a.m. | March 25, 2020
Press Release By Nevada Health Response
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | March 24, 2020

Las Vegas, NV — Today, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed an emergency regulation promulgated by the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy related to the prescription and issuance of two certain drugs.
 

While the drugs serve necessary medical purposes, there is no consensus among COVID-19 experts or Nevada’s own medical health advisory team that the two drugs provide treatment for COVID-19 patients. The emergency regulation is aimed at preventing hoarding of the drugs.
 

“This emergency regulation protects Nevadans who needs these drugs for legitimate medical purposes. At this point in time, there is no known cure for COVID-19 and we must not withhold these drugs from those who need them,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak. “The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home for Nevada, not to stockpile these drugs.”
 

The regulation prohibits the prescribing and dispensing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for a COVID-19 diagnosis, requires an ICD-10 code on prescriptions for the drugs and limits the prescription amount to a 30-day supply for the drugs.
 

The emergency regulation will ensure access for Nevada patients to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for legitimate medical purposes.
 

“This emergency regulation is a strong step in protecting patients. While studies are underway on the usefulness of these drugs in treating COVID-19, we must deal with facts, not fiction,” said Dr. Ishan Azzam, the chief medical officer for the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health. “Preserving these drugs for those who need it is the right decision.”

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Tuesday, March 24

11:15 p.m. PDT | March 24, 2020
By Danna O'Connor

2 More Deaths and Nevada Cases Top 300

The Southern Nevada Health District is reporting two more individuals with COVID-19 have died in Clark County. The individuals include a man in his 70s with underlying medical conditions and a woman in her 50s with underlying conditions. 

At this point, six people in Nevada, all in Southern Nevada, have died from the illness. Cases statewide have topped 300. The Nevada Independent has a detailed case tracker

The Washoe County Health District is reporting six additional cases of COVID-19 in Washoe County, moving the total number of cases there to 50.

 

Due to the growing number of cases, the WCHD says it is only reporting on the number of additional cases and total cases at this time.

 

The health district is also reporting that one additional confirmed COVID-19 case has fully recovered, bringing the total recoveries in Washoe County to four.

Sisolak Bans Gatherings of 10 or More in Public

 

Nevadans are no longer allowed to gather in groups of ten or more, in public spaces across the state.

 

Governor Steve Sisolak announced the latest emergency directive in an online press conference streamed on his Facebook page. The move prohibits groups of ten or more to gather in public spaces, including libraries, social clubs and playgrounds.

 

Nevadans who wish to enjoy our great outdoors can still do so. But we must do so safely to prevent the spread of this disease.

 

Sisolak says offenders of this new directive will be given warnings at first, but that could lead to civil or criminal penalties.

 

The directive follows a series of others that have shut down non-essential businesses across the state, limited the hoarding of pharmaceutical products and shut down DMV offices.

TMCC Employee Tests Presumptively Positive

 

Truckee Meadows Community College sent an alert that an employee tested presumptively positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation at home. TMCC received the information Monday evening. 

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 18 TMCC closed all physical locations. Classes and services are now being delivered remotely. You can find TMCC’s COVID-19 updates here

UNR Classes, Commencement Being Held Online

 

The university released a statement Tuesday explaining that all for-credit courses will be delivered remotely for the remainder of the semester, even if Governor Steve Sisolak lifts the Stay Home For Nevada order on April 16. Also, commencement ceremonies will be held in May virtually and more details are to come. You can find UNR’s COVID-19 updates here

Nevada Secures $2 Million For Seniors

 

Two Nevada senators have announced over two million dollars in funding for Nevada’s senior citizens. U. S. senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen say the money will be used to provide meals for older adults.

The senators say the funds will allow seniors to receive meals while staying safe at home during the coronavirus epidemic.

The money will come from the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which Senators Rosen and Cortez Masto voted for earlier this month.

 

Southwest Gas Suspends Service Disconnections

 

Southwest Gas will indefinitely suspend all service disconnections for customers who are facing financial hardships because of COVID-19. 

The company announced Tuesday that its offices and payment kiosks will remain open, but the company will limit the number of people in the office at one time. 

Southwest Gas employees will also practice social distancing, remaining at least six feet away from customers. Customers are encouraged to use the Southwest Gas website and mobile app.

Food Insecurity on the Rise

The Food Bank of Northern Nevada is reporting a more than thirty percent increase in people showing up at food distribution sites.

Those numbers are expected to rise with many residents facing financial hardship after businesses were closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

To prepare for the increase, the food bank is converting most of its distribution centers to a drive-thru model in order to practice social distancing and limit the size of the crowds.

People without cars can come to the site but must follow the CDC social distancing guidelines. You can find information on their website or by calling 775-331-3663.

Rep. Amodei On What Businesses Need During COVID-19 Pandemic

7:05 p.m. PDT | March 24, 2020
By Bree Zender

The U.S. Senate is negotiating how a House novel coronavirus relief package will be distributed to the public. KUNR's Bree Zender spoke with Nevada's 2nd District Congressman Mark Amodei about this pending legislation and what economic hurdles Nevada is now facing due to the pandemic.

Listen to this interview.

Nevada Developing Its Own COVID-19 Test

4:16 p.m. PDT | March 24, 2020
By Anh Gray

Nevada is one of several states that has notified the Food and Drug Administration that it’s modifying the COVID-19 test.

The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory Director Dr. Mark Pandori said he’s taking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention test and modifying it to increase testing capacity in Nevada.

Pandori said he’s working to produce a reliable test by using chemicals and substances from a variety of brands and vendors. This helps ease some of the nationwide shortages of chemical components needed in the testing process.

“That will allow us to work around supply issues, which are being seen for testing nationwide,” Pandori explained.

Pandori said he’s currently evaluating how the alternative products are working and analyzing data to ensure the test results are reliable.

“So if the results come out that these products can be used and result in a test which is of extremely high quality, which is our standard, then we will go ahead and do that,” Pandori explained. “It really depends on how the data turns out.”

Pandori said he’s not sure when the state test will be ready to launch but hopes to have a more clear picture by the end of the week after an analysis is complete.

Editor's note: to listen to an extended interview with Dr. Pandori, visit To Alleviate Shortages, Nevada Is Working To Modify And Develop Its Own COVID-19 Test.

Special Enrollment Period For Health Insurance In Nevada

11:24 a.m. PDT | March 24, 2020
By Anh Gray

Nevada has the sixth-highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation. In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange has a special enrollment period to get more people covered.

The special enrollment period is open until April 15. Heather Korbulic is the executive director of the state-based insurance marketplace. She said the spread of COVID-19 highlights the importance of health insurance.

“This is a good opportunity for people who are currently uninsured to get connected,” said Korbulic. “There's never been a more pronounced demonstration of why insurance is important than our current state of emergency. So we are definitely welcoming uninsured Nevadans to get connected.”

About 14% of Nevadans were uninsured in 2017, according to a report by the Guinn Center. That’s nearly 400,000 people.

Korbulic said that people who experience lost wages or changes to employment during the economic downturn can still contact the agency after this special enrollment period.

“We are definitely welcoming uninsured Nevadans to get connected. So if you get laid off and you lose your employer-sponsored plan, we are also always accepting special enrollments for people who are losing access to their employer-sponsored plans,” Korbulic explained.

Other state-based health insurance exchanges around the country have also opened special enrollment periods this month.

Get Caught Up:

  • March 23 | Nevada Updates
    • Southern Nevada Reports Two New COVID-19 Deaths
    • Nev. Democratic Senators Ask For Low Interest Small Business Loans
    • The Nevada DMV To Extend Expired Documents For 90-Days
    • The City of Reno’s New Way To Attend City Council Meetings
    • The Department of Labor Sees Increasing Unemployment Claims

For continued updates on the coronavirus in Nevada, visit our updates and resources page.