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Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: July 1-7

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.
Regional Novel Coronavirus Updates: Tuesday, July 7

7:36 p.m. | July 7, 2020

Nevada Reports Nearly 900 Additional Cases Of COVID-19, Officials Discuss Limitations Of Contact Tracing
By Lucia Starbuck

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported 876 additional cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. There are now nearly 550 COVID-19-related deaths in Nevada, and there have been close to 384,000 COVID-19 tests performed. The growing number of cases in the state is causing challenges related to contact tracing.

Nevada’s contact tracing workforce has about 500 staff members calling people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to determine close contacts who might have been exposed to the virus. Julia Peek is a spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. During a press call with reporters Tuesday, she said about a quarter of positive COVID-19 cases have been identified through contact tracing, but she also admitted the process is not perfect.

“It relies on timely reporting of results from labs, timely collection of contact information on cases as provided by the clinician who collected the specimen and reaching out to the cases to interview," Peek explained.

Peek also said some people are hesitant to pick up the phone.

“Recently, we've been challenged with having inaccurate phone numbers and only access to email addresses. We are fully reliant on the individual responding to our call or email. They could think our communication is a scam and we have been unsuccessful in reaching that person as a result," Peek explained.

Additionally, Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced recently that visitors from many different states should quarantine for two weeks upon arrival to New Jersey. California and Nevada were both listed.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

COVID-19 Outbreak Closes California’s Capitol
By The Associated Press

A coronavirus outbreak is closing California's Capitol and forcing the Assembly to put off its return to work as infection and hospitalization rates soar across the state. Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, a Democrat from Inglewood, tweeted Monday that she was exposed to COVID-19 by someone when the Assembly met on June 26 to pass the state budget, even though she and others were wearing masks and observing physical distancing. She's in quarantine. The Assembly Speaker's office said four other people who work in the Assembly also tested positive for COVID-19. The Capitol building will be closed until further notice for cleaning.

Companies Tied To California Officials Get U.S. Virus Loans
By The Associated Press

Businesses tied to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and two legislative leaders received federal loans aimed at keeping small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. Federal data on the Paycheck Protection Program released Monday showed a Northern California winery and hospitality company founded and partly owned by Newsom received a loan worth $150,000 to $350,000. A labor consulting company led by California Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove received a loan within the same dollar range. A consulting firm founded by the spouse of state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and a real estate investment company run by the husband of Kounalakis received loans of at least $350,000.

Burning Man Receives Millions In Small Business Loans
By Lucia Starbuck

Burning Man canceled its annual festival in the Black Rock Desert this year. The event usually brings in $43 million in revenue and employs about 100 people. About a third of the revenue goes toward salaries.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that Burning Man received $2-5 million in federal small business loans to keep their staff employed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Burning Man has about $10 million in a rainy day fund, the Reno Gazette-Journal added.

Judge Orders More Information To Be Gathered For Lawsuit Against DETR
By Lucia Starbuck

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, known as DETR, on behalf of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, known as PUA, claimants. PUA applicants are self-employed or independent contractors and are ineligible for standard unemployment benefits.

The filers allege that DETR has failed to pay the recipients of PUA in a reasonable time and should pay the claimants.

The Nevada Independent reported Tuesday that a Washoe County judge declined to issue a court order to force DETR to immediately start paying PUA claimants, but the judge did appoint a Reno lawyer to gather more information and investigate the delayed claims.

Updates On Reported Cases For Washoe, Elko and Quad-Counties
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 and 75 recoveries Tuesday. There have been nearly 58,000 COVID-19 tests performed in the county.

In Elko County, health officials reported 20 new cases Tuesday along with seven recoveries.

Over in the Quad-Counties, the eighth death from COVID-19 was confirmed Tuesday of a man in his 60s with no reported underlying conditions. Health officials also confirmed ten new positive cases, bringing the total number of cases in that region above 400. The new cases include three Carson City residents, four Lyon County residents, and three Douglas County residents. There were six recoveries reported in the region, which also includes Storey County.

Regional Novel Coronavirus Updates: Monday, July 6

7:39 p.m. | July 6, 2020

COVID-19 Cases Climb To Nearly 23,000 In Nevada
By Paul Boger

Health officials in Washoe County reported 95 new cases of COVID-19 in the area. That brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 3,260. More than 1,130 are considered active.

The Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks reported the death of an 89-year-old man who was undergoing end-of-life care. He was a Korean War Navy veteran and the 83rd person to die from the coronavirus in Washoe County. The facility now has 15 residents and 20 staff members who have tested positive for the virus.

Officials with Nevada's COVID-19 Response also reported six new cases in the Quad Counties, and 20 new cases in Elko County.

Statewide, the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus approached 22,909 Monday. That's an increase of more than 491 since Sunday morning. There have been 537 COVID-19-related deaths.

Some Businesses Not Complying With Mask Mandate
By The Associated Press

The number of COVID-19 cases has risen steadily since Nevada reopened casinos and other businesses in a limited fashion in early June, but officials are hoping a statewide face-covering mandate will help curb the spread of the virus. However, a recent analysis by the state found that as many as one-in-five businesses around the state were failing to comply with the mandate. On a call with reporters Monday, Julia Peek, Nevada’s deputy administrator of Community Health Services, said more time was needed to evaluate the mask mandate's effectiveness. "We will be comparing what our cases looked like prior to the mandatory masks and after. As well, we're also looking at other states that mandated masks throughout reopening or if they're a similar state as us that implemented a little bit later on." Currently, there are no penalties for individuals found not wearing a mask in public, but in a statement issued last week, Governor Steve Sisolak announced he was prepared to strengthen mask requirements.

Nevada Gold Mines Launches Small Business Fund
By Paul Boger

A gold mining consortium in Nevada has launched an investment fund meant to provide economic support to local businesses in rural Northern Nevada.

Created by Nevada Gold Mines, a joint venture between Barrick Gold and the Newmont Corporation, the I-80 Fund will provide relief and recovery loans to small businesses along the state's I-80 corridor, specifically those in Elko, Lander, Humboldt, and Eureka Counties.

In a press release, the consortium announced they are providing $5 million as a seed investment.

The company said the program will initially focus on providing relief for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will then shift priorities and provide support for a small business development fund.

Regional Novel Coronavirus Updates: Sunday, July 5

9:20 p.m. | July 5, 2020

New Positive Case Updates For Washoe, Quad-Counties, And State
By Michelle Billman

Health officials in Washoe County reported three new deaths related to the novel coronavirus Sunday, which brings the total number of deaths related to the illness above 80 there. Those three deaths were residents in their 50s, 80s, and 90s with underlying health conditions.

The Regional Information Center also said there were 93 new positive cases and 19 additional recoveries. As of Sunday in Washoe County, 76 percent of all staffed short-term, acute-care hospital beds are occupied, 56 percent of all ICU beds are occupied, and 21 percent of all ventilators are in use. That data is from the Nevada Hospital Association and reflects all hospital patients, not just patients with COVID-19. 

In the Quad-Counties, health officials reported six new positive cases Sunday, including: three Carson City residents, two Lyon County residents, and one Douglas County resident. Eleven people in that region are hospitalized and 118 cases remain active. 

Statewide, health officials reported 843 new positive COVID-19 cases in Nevada Sunday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to more than 22,400. There were also four new deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 534. 

Placer County Launches 211 Service To Connect Residents With Resources
By Michelle Billman

This month Placer County launched a 211 service, which is a free information and referral system with multilingual options. The goal is to connect people with services and resources within the community, including housing assistance, senior care, food, employment services, mental health support, and others. 

District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes said in a statement from Placer County that “the launch of 211 Placer couldn’t come at a more crucial time for our residents.”

The effort grew out of talks with community groups, law enforcement and other local leaders. According to the statement, Placer was previously the largest county in California without a 211 system. 

Medicaid Offering COVID-19 Testing For Uninsured Nevadans
By Michelle Billman

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that most uninsured Nevadans now qualify for free COVID-19 testing through Medicaid. A statement from the department explained that Nevada Medicaid now covers COVID-19 testing and testing-related services under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act for most uninsured residents. 

Coverage for this program is retroactive back to March 18 and will continue until the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. The coverage is limited, however, and does not include services beyond the testing, such as medication or other forms of treatment. Testing is available for both symptomatic and asymptomatic people.

Regional Novel Coronavirus Updates: Saturday, July 4

7:46 p.m. | July 4, 2020

Washoe County Health Officials Say Surge In Cases Tied To Large Gatherings
By Michelle Billman

In Washoe County, the Regional Information Center is reporting that there are 92 new cases Saturday, along with 102 additional recoveries. The health district is urging residents to avoid large gatherings for Independence Day. District officials say that the age ranges most contracting the virus are people in their 20s to 40s, while most of the deaths in Washoe are among people in their 60s to 90s.

They specifically say that the county’s surge in cases directly corresponds to large gatherings, like barbecues and other celebrations. 

In the Quad-Counties, health officials reported seven new positive cases Saturday, including: five Carson City residents, one Lyon County resident, and one Douglas County resident. The Quad-Counties also include Storey County and the region now has 112 active cases. 

More than 850 positive COVID-19 cases were reported statewide in Nevada Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 21,575. State health officials also confirmed two more deaths related to the virus, bringing Nevada’s death toll to 530. 

15 Residents, 14 Staff Members Test Positive At Veterans Home In Sparks
By Michelle Billman

15 residents and 14 staff members at the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home (NNSVH) in Sparks have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s an increase of seven cases since the facility reported on the outbreak Wednesday, according to a statement from the Nevada Department of Veterans Services sent on Saturday.

These residents are in isolation and the staff are self-quarantining at home. Ten of the veterans who have tested positive have been moved to the ICU at the Reno VA Hospital, and they are in stable condition. 

Facility Administration Mike Ball said in the statement that they are increasing the frequency of testing from every 7 days to at least twice weekly in order to turn the situation around. 

Only staff members and essential vendors are allowed to enter the facility, and anyone who enters the building must be screened beforehand. You can call 775-418-5026 for updates on NNSVH. That phone is updated regularly. 

Regional Novel Coronavirus Updates: Friday, July 3

Washoe Co. Reports 150 New Cases, New Daily Record
By KUNR Staff

The Regional Information Center is reporting 150 new COVID-19 cases Friday, which is a new daily record. The previous record was 119, which was set on Thursday. More than 100 cases have been reported in four of the last eight days.

The center is also reporting two COVID-19-related deaths in Washoe County: A female in her 70s with underlying health conditions and a male in his 60s with no underlying health conditions. There are now 79 COVID-19-related deaths in Washoe County.

Health officials are reminding residents that it's imperative to be responsible during Independence Day celebrations. They say "the epidemiological curve is no longer flat and is trending strongly upward" due to new cases. The 7-day moving average for new cases per day is at 87.

Active cases in Washoe have more than doubled in the past month to nearly 1,130. Also, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Washoe has surpassed 3,000. 

Statewide, Nevada is reporting nearly 1,000 new positive cases of COVID-19 Friday, bringing the total number of cases to more than 20,700. The state is also reporting three new deaths, bringing the death toll to 528. 

Gov. Sisolak Calls Face Mask Noncompliance ‘Unacceptable’
By Michelle Billman

The State of Nevada observed roughly 200 businesses Thursday to see if they are complying with Governor Steve Sisolak’s directive to wear face masks in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

Sisolak has released a statement saying the noncompliance rate of businesses across Nevada to wear face masks is both disappointing and unacceptable. 

Overall, since enforcement of the face mask directive began, business compliance has been 85 percent in Northern Nevada and 65 percent in Southern Nevada. Specifically, on July 2, the state visited 204 businesses and found that only 49 percent of them were in compliance. Bars and restaurant bar areas were at 50 percent compliance, while other businesses such as auto shops, gyms, hair and nail establishments, and tattoo parlors were at 61 percent. 

In his statement, the Democratic governor said he has growing concerns about the state’s current COVID-19 data trends and that he “will not hesitate to take swift and decisive actions next week directed at targeted industries or areas that are experiencing concerning COVID-19 trends and noncompliance.”

WCSD’s Reopening Proposal Includes Mix Of In-person And Distance Learning
By Michelle Billman

Washoe County School District administrators are proposing a reopening plan for schools during the fall semester as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The proposal is on the agenda for possible action during the Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday. 

It recommends having elementary school students attend school in-person full-time. 

For middle schoolers two options are noted: either attending school in-person full-time or a hybrid learning model in which students receive about half of their instruction in-person and the other half with distance learning. 

For high school students just the hybrid learning model is being suggested.

The presentation of the proposal also states that the “district must have an option for families to receive high quality standards-based instruction without coming into schools.” 

City of Ely Modifies Independence Day Celebration, Cancels Parade
By Michelle Billman

The City of Ely released a statement Friday saying that the local Fourth of July activities there will be either canceled or greatly modified. Specifically, the holiday parade is canceled, and the fireworks display will still happen, but White Pine County is closing Marich Field and a local golf course to the public.

The city's statement says the changes are "due to the refusal of local individuals who have tested for COVID-19 to quarantine and provide vital contact tracing information to slow the spread of the virus."

Regional Novel Coronavirus Updates: Thursday, July 2

7:06 p.m. | July 2, 2020

Another Day, Another Round Of Record Coronavirus Highs
By Paul Boger

Health officials in Washoe County are reporting new daily records in the number of COVID-19 cases in the area. 

According to the Regional Information Center, more than 119 new cases of COVID-19 were uncovered in Washoe County since Wednesday, increasing the total number of active cases to 1,019.

Health officials are also reporting another death. A woman in her 80's with underlying health conditions is the 77th coronavirus-related-death since the start of the pandemic. 

In the Quad-Counties, officials reported seven new cases Thursday, including five Carson City residents and two Lyon County residents. Three additional recoveries are also being reported. That region includes Storey and Douglas Counties as well. There are now more than 360 positive cases in the Quad-Counties, and 96 remain active. 

In the rurals, Elko has confirmed another three new cases Thursday, bringing the county's total to 134, and health officials in Humboldt County are reporting two new cases.

Statewide, the total number of cases reached 19,733 Thursday, an increase of more than 632 cases since Wednesday morning. 

Fourteen additional deaths were reported statewide, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Nevada to 525.

Northern Nevada Compliance Rate For Masks at 84%
By The Associated Press

Officials say one in four bars, businesses, gyms and salons in and around Las Vegas are not complying with Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak's order for people to use face coverings in public places. The state Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Thursday that compliance statewide was about 80% since the governor's mask mandate to prevent the spread of the coronavirus took effect on June 26. OSHA said it visited about 350 places statewide on Wednesday and found Southern Nevada sites had a 75% compliance rate. The compliance rate for Northern Nevada was 84%.

Organizers Cancel Great Reno Balloon Race
By Paul Boger

The Great Reno Balloon Race is the latest annual event to join the growing list of cancellations this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Organizers made the announcement via email Thursday morning. They say they hope to bring the event back to Northern Nevada in 2021. 

The event began in 1982 and draws roughly 120,000 spectators to Rancho San Rafael Park each year.

Other major events that have been canceled in recent months include the Reno Rodeo, Burning Man, the Nugget’s annual Rib Cook-Off, the Reno Air Races as well as several Fourth of July events.

Regional Novel Coronavirus Updates: Wednesday, July 1

7:41 p.m. | July 1, 2020

Governor Sisolak Announces Special Session
By The Associated Press

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced plans Wednesday to bring lawmakers back for a special session, tentatively set for Wednesday, July 8. The special session will address the state's budget as tax revenue plummets amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state funds a large amount of services through tax revenue from the gambling and hospitality industries. They have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn and now the state faces a projected $1.3 billion revenue shortfall in the current fiscal year. The date is not yet official and Sisolak said he would "remain flexible" as the state navigates an uptick in new confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Nevada COVID-19 Cases Update
By Jayden Perez

The State of Nevada is reporting 645 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total of confirmed cases to over 19,000. The death toll statewide is 511, according to the state’s online dashboard. No new deaths have been reported Wednesday.

In a press conference Wednesday Caleb Cage, the state of Nevada COVID-19 Response Director, said that confirmed hospitalizations have been trending upward since May 31. For the 7-day period ending on May 31, the number of cases grew by 1.4 percent, or 116 new cases per day. For comparison, during the 7-day period ending on June 30, the growth rate of cases was 3.9 percent, or 644 cases per day.

Also, Cage reported that approximately 85% of businesses are in compliance with the governor’s mask directive; however, they encouraged the public to report businesses that aren’t in compliance to the Nevada OSHA.

Washoe County Report
By Jayden Perez

Washoe County reported 38 new positive cases Wednesday along with 42 recoveries. The county is also reporting a 76th death: a woman in her 90s with underlying conditions. There are more than 2,800 cases in Washoe, and 973 are active. 

Quad-Counties Report 8 New Cases
By Michelle Billman

The Quad-Counties are reporting eight new positive cases and twelve additional recoveries Wednesday. The eight new cases include: six Carson City residents, one Douglas County resident, and one Lyon County resident. The region also includes Storey County. There are now 92 active cases in the Quad-Counties and a total of more than 350 people there have been diagnosed with the virus since the start of the pandemic. 

Elko County Reports Jump In Cases Throughout June
By Michelle Billman

In Elko, health officials reported on Tuesday that during the month of June, there was a more than 450 percent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases, while testing only increased by roughly 170 percent.

Northern Nevada State Veterans Home Update
By Jayden Perez

The Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks was notified Tuesday that two additional residents and nine staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. The facility now has a total of eight residents and 14 staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

All residents who have tested positive are in isolation and the staff are self-quarantined. No veteran residents are in critical condition, but those with COVID-19 were still moved to the Reno VA Hospital to receive daily medical care in a COVID ICU level-of-care unit. The facility is also working with Nevada health experts to support contact tracing efforts.

Get Caught Up:

  • June 30 | Regional Updates
    • Nevada Reports More Than 500 Additional COVID-19 Cases
    • Washoe County Reports More Than 100 New Cases Of COVID-19
    • Quad-Counties Report 13 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 On Tuesday
    • Reno Aces Cancel 2020 Baseball Season
    • Storey County Cancels Fourth Of July Fireworks In Virginia City
    • Nevada Casinos Closed Through May Yielded Nearly No Tax Revenue
    • Nevada Schools Get Input From Parents On Reopening
    • Man In Truckee Delivers Toys To Kids Feeling Isolated

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

Michelle Billman is the news director at KUNR Public Radio in Reno, Nevada where she oversees a scrappy crew of multimedia storytellers. She’s a transplant from the East Coast, where she earned degrees in creative writing and English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Virginia Tech.
Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America focusing on community reporting and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local community issues are her passion, including the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, a lack of access to healthcare, protests and challenges facing vulnerable communities in northern Nevada.
Jayden Perez is a former web producer and student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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