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Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Dec. 31, 2020-Jan. 6, 2021

An illustration of an ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Tuesday, January 5, 2021

6:12 p.m. | January 5, 2021

Washoe County Reports 24 COVID-19-Related Deaths Since Start Of New Year
By Lucia Starbuck

There have been two dozen COVID-19 deaths in Washoe County in just the first five days of the new year so far. More than 500 lives have been lost since the start of the pandemic in Washoe County, and more than 3,200 statewide.

Over the last two weeks, there have been an average of 1,600 new daily cases in Nevada and the test positivity rate remains high - at around 20% - and has for about a month.

There are nearly 1,900 patients hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in Nevada and 79% of staffed hospital beds are occupied.

Quad-Counties To Vaccinate Educators And Day Care Workers Monday
By Lucia Starbuck

Some counties in Nevada are expected to begin vaccinating people in Tier 2 next week.

Quad-Counties will vaccinate educators and day care workers as soon as Monday. They must make arrangements with their employers and show proof of employment to receive a shot. Those in Tier 1 who still haven’t been vaccinated yet, can still receive one. 

Like the Quad-Counties, Clark is also expected to include some people from Tier 2 next week, focusing on vaccinating adults over the age of 75 for the time being according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

And for now, Washoe County is still vaccinating Tier 1 with over 5,000 shots administered so far. Other medical providers including hospitals and first responders like REMSA have received over 12,000 doses. 

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

Clark County Expects To Start Vaccinating People 75 And Older Soon
By The Associated Press

Health officials say coronavirus vaccinations for people age 75 and older in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, could begin at pharmacies as soon as next week. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Monday that a Southern Nevada Health District spokeswoman says those vaccinations could begin as soon as Jan. 11. Vaccination efforts in Nevada so far have focused on front-line health care workers and staff and residents in long-term care facilities. A Nevada Health and Human Services spokeswoman says multiple counties could "soon" begin vaccinating people in the state's second-tier priority group, which includes older people. Both agencies said more information would be released as details are confirmed.
Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Monday, January 4, 2021

6:28 p.m. | January 4, 2021

Statewide COVID-19 Report
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada is starting off the new year with elevated COVID-19 transmission in all counties but one.

With the exception of Storey, all counties have been flagged for elevated disease transmission for surpassing a test positivity rate of over 8%. Currently the rate is around 20% statewide. And Pershing County in particular has the highest test positivity rate in Nevada - at nearly 50%.

Statewide, an average of nearly 1,700 new daily cases have been reported over the last two weeks. Also during that time, 19 deaths have been reported per day on average.

Statewide, 78% of staffed hospital beds are occupied.

The Washoe County Health District reported three additional deaths Monday bringing the total to 508. County officials also reported 197 new cases.

Nevada Off Hook For Contempt In Gig Workers Benefits Case
By The Associated Press

A Nevada judge lifted a contempt finding against the state unemployment office, saying it complied just before Christmas with his July court order to resume paying pandemic relief benefits to thousands of out-of-work gig and contract workers. The state Department of Training, Employment and Rehabilitation issued a statement following the Thursday ruling saying 200 appeals have been heard under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and another 320 hearings are scheduled in coming weeks. An attorney heading the lawsuit filed last May said Monday the question continues to affect "multiple thousands" of idled workers who should have received $600 weekly benefits that Congress allocated as pandemic relief.

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

Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Sunday, January 3, 2021

9:02 p.m. | January 3, 2021

Washoe County Surpasses 500 Total COVID-19-Related Deaths
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County surpassed a total of 500 COVID-19-related deaths over the weekend. The county surpassed 400 deaths about two weeks ago. 

The Washoe County Health District reported 12 COVID-19 deaths Sunday, among individuals ranging from their 50s to 90s. There are now 505 total deaths in Washoe due to the virus.

Statewide, there have been about 19 deaths per day on average over the last two weeks.

Also during that time period, a daily average of nearly 1,700 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nevada. 

Officials say the number of new daily cases is likely higher but there is typically a lull of testing over the holidays.

The state’s test positivity rate has ticked up to 21%. It remained about 20% the whole month of December. 

The Washoe County Health District also reported 343 additional COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

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

Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Thursday, December 31, 2020

7:00 p.m. | December 31, 2020

December Deadliest Month During Pandemic In Washoe
By Lucia Starbuck

More than 40% of all COVID-19- related deaths in Washoe County were reported in December. This makes it the deadliest month during the pandemic.

Over 200 people lost their lives this month. For comparison, there were 80 deaths in November, and 20 the month of October. County officials reported six additional deaths Thursday, along with 305 additional cases.

COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 3,000 Nevadans since March. A grim record of 59 deaths were reported today. Statewide, the test positivity rate has remained high throughout this month - at around 20%. On average, there have been about 1,600 new daily cases over the last two weeks. 

About 1,900 people are spending New Year’s Eve hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in the state. Staffed hospital beds are 83% occupied.

Health officials are imploring Nevadans to stay at home tonight. 

Nevada Has Administered Over 29,000 COVID-19 Vaccines
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada has received almost 97,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. But only a little over 29,000 doses have been administered to those in the first tier. That’s about 30%, according to the Associated Press

It should be noted: that number is likely higher but state officials say there’s a lag in reporting that data.

Nevada and other states received fewer shipments from the federal government than originally expected.

The state is still focusing on vaccinating people in Tier 1, which includes health care workers along with staff and residents in long term care facilities. 80% of Tier 1 must be vaccinated before moving to Tier 2.

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

Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Wednesday, December 30, 2020

7:00 p.m. | December 30, 2020

More Than 25,000 COVID-19 Vaccines Administered In Nevada
By Lucia Starbuck

More than 25,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Nevada. These first rounds of shots come at a critical time.

State officials say the number of vaccines administered is likely higher, but there’s a lag in reporting that data. This first round has gone to frontline workers along with staff and residents in long term care facilities. 

Vaccinations are taking place as the state positivity rate has remained high throughout this month — at about 20%. Nevada has the second highest rate across the country.

Statewide, there have been an average of over 1,600 new cases per day over the last two weeks, and an average of 19 deaths per day during that same period.

And staffed hospital beds are 82% occupied in Nevada.

In a recent press conference, Governor Steve Sisolak urged Nevadans to stay home for New Year’s Eve. He called a planned outdoor event in downtown Las Vegas, which is expected to draw a crowd of thousands, “irresponsible.”

And in Washoe County, 319 additional cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths were reported Wednesday.

Health District Says Pace Of Vaccinations Going Well In Washoe
By Lucia Starbuck

Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick says Washoe is ‘hitting a pretty good pace’ with administering the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dick says almost half of the roughly 30,000 Washoe residents in Tier 1 have been vaccinated. This group includes health care workers, first responders and staff and residents in long term care facilities. 

He added that, as of right now, the county is set to move to Tier 2 in late January, or once roughly 80% of Tier 1 is vaccinated. 

Tier 2 includes essential workers in industries including postal services, retail, food, and transportation, along with teachers. 

You can see the Washoe County Health District’s COVID-19 vaccine FAQ here.

Nevada Revises Vaccine Plan But Assures Delivery Is Smooth
By The Associated Press

Nevada health officials say they have administered nearly 26,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines - about 16% of the state's initial December allocation - and plan to move people older than 75 to the next tier of its distribution plan. Gov. Steve Sisolak said Wednesday the state had experienced relatively few challenges in distributing vaccines to hospitals, county health departments and pharmacies. The federal government initially allocated 164,150 doses to Nevada for December. But on Dec. 18, the federal government alerted Nevada and 12 other states that it would provide thousands fewer doses than initially planned. Sisolak called the change disruptive and baffling.

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Elects New Chairperson, Begins Administering COVID-19 Vaccine
By Lucia Starbuck

Janet Davis was elected as councilwoman for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, making her the second woman to hold the position, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. She will be sworn in on January 8.

Davis, who currently serves on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Council, is a voting rights advocate. She helped establish a polling location on the reservation.

She's taking the post during a critical time in the pandemic. There have been a total of about 170 cases since the pandemic began according to the Pyramid Lake Tribal Health Clinic.

Davis told the RGJ she’s seen the virus affect several intergenerational families, including her own.

The Tribal Health Clinic received a shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and began vaccinating elders in the community, starting with those over the age of 70, this week.

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

Smiling With Hope Pizza In Reno To Close Temporarily
By Lucia Starbuck

A Reno pizzeria called Smiling with Hope Pizza will be temporarily closing next month despite seeing steady business throughout the pandemic, according to KRNV.

The owners, Walter and Judy Gloshinski, say they are closing during this time because they are in a high risk group as seniors, and with the surge of COVID-19 cases, don’t want to contract the virus.

The pizzeria takes pride in hiring adults with developmental disabilities, and currently has three adults with disabilities on their staff now, along with college-age students. The owners say they plan to bring the staff back as soon as they reopen in the future.

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

Uptick In Las Vegas Area Homeless Deaths But Not From Virus
By The Associated Press

Problems magnified by the coronavirus, but not the virus itself, are being blamed for a rise in deaths in the Las Vegas area's homeless population. Local public health officials and homeless advocates tell the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the number of fatalities on the street is up 16% compared to last year. Yet, the COVID-19 test positivity rate among homeless communities is about the same as the general population. Clark County reports 186 homeless people died from Jan. 1 to Dec. 4. That amounts to a rate of 35 deaths for every 1,000, which is six more than in 2019.

California Governor Offers Plans To Reopen In-Person Schools
By The Associated Press 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged schools to resume in-person education some time this spring. He wants to start with the youngest students returning to school, and promised $2 billion in state aid to promote coronavirus testing, increased ventilation of classrooms and personal protective equipment. He said the recommendation announced Wednesday was driven by increasing evidence that there are lower risks and increased benefits from in-person instruction particularly for the youngest students. The proposal comes as California remains consumed by a growing pandemic crisis. Newsom reported 432 additional deaths Tuesday. But hope is on the horizon as vaccines begin rolling out, with educators among those recommended for shots after the initial round goes to health care workers.

New California Laws Address Virus, Fires, Law Enforcement
By The Associated Press 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic forcing California state lawmakers to twice shut down their sessions for weeks at a time, they still managed to pass hundreds of bills. Most take effect with the new year. One new law requires an investigation by the state attorney general any time police kill an unarmed civilian. Others allow more oversight of sheriffs and require evaluations of peace officers to include any racial bias. One bill signed into law says homeowners in fire-prone areas must further reduce vegetation within 100 feet of structures. And another says employers must quickly notify workers of potential coronavirus exposure.

Get Caught Up:

December 30, 2020 | Regional Updates

  • COVID-19 Vaccines Available For Washoe County Medical Personnel
  • Governor Sisolak Issues Statement On Federal Stimulus Deal
  • About 40% Of Washoe County’s Total COVID-19-Related Deaths Reported in December Alone
  • Cities Of Reno, Sparks Partner With Walgreens For COVID-19 Testing
  • Washoe County Continues To See High Number Of Deaths From Pre-Thanksgiving Surge
  • Nevada Researchers Say COVID-19 Vaccine Will Be Effective Against Virus Mutations

For continued updates on the novel coronavirus in Nevada, visit our related stories 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.
Olivia Ali is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno majoring in journalism and minoring in history. She is also the editor-in-chief of The Nevada Sagebrush. Prior to working at KUNR, she interned at the Reno Gazette Journal as a reporting intern and at the Sacramento SPCA as a digital marketing analyst intern through the Dow Jones News Fund. After she graduates, she hopes to work in audience engagement or digital media. Outside of journalism, Olivia loves to travel, learn as much as she can and watch reality television when she gets a spare moment.
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