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Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Feb. 17-23, 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: Monday, February 22, 2021

5:44 p.m. | February 23, 2021

COVID-19 Hospitalizations In Nevada Continue To Decline
By Lucia Starbuck

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are continuing to decline in Nevada. 

There are currently under 600 people hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 compared to the beginning of the month when we saw about twice as many patients.

Statewide, on average, there have been under 400 daily cases over the last two weeks, along with 11 deaths per day.

In Washoe County, officials reported 102 COVID-19 cases Tuesday, which is higher than the average of 43 daily cases seen over the last two weeks.

There haven’t been any COVID-19-related deaths in Washoe over the last three days.

For more information, you can find Nevada’s COVID-19 dashboard here, and Washoe County’s here.

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

Nevada Moderna Vaccination Doses Arrive After Weather Delay
By The Associated Press

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says shipments of 46,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine that were delayed because of weather have now started arriving in the state. Sisolak made the announcement Monday on Twitter. Candice McDaniel, the health bureau chief of Nevada's Bureau of Child, Family and Community Wellness, said officials would be working overtime this week to administer the delayed Moderna doses and this week's regularly scheduled shipment. Officials in southern Nevada, which includes Las Vegas and three-quarters of the state's population, rescheduled appointments for people waiting for a second dose of the Moderna vaccine for this week.

California Governor Signs $7.6 Billion Stimulus Package
By The Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a $7.6 billion coronavirus relief package. The new laws will give at least $600 one-time payments to 5.7 million people while setting aside more than $2 billion in grants for struggling small businesses. Newsom signed the law as Congress is debating a much larger stimulus package for the nation. California's stimulus package will give up to $25,000 grants to small businesses with revenues between $1,000 and $2.5 million. Most people will get the $600 payments by claiming the California earned income tax credit on their state tax returns.

Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Monday, February 22, 2021

5:12 p.m. | February 22, 2021

More Than 12% Of Nevadans Have Received First COVID-19 Shot
By Lucia Starbuck

It’s been about three months since the COVID-19 vaccine first arrived in Nevada. 

Over 556,000 shots have been administered. This means a little over 12% of the state’s population has received their first shot and under 6% of residents have received both doses.

This comes as the state is reporting an average of fewer than 400 new daily cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths per day over the last two weeks.

During that same period, there has been an average of 40 daily cases in Washoe.

Nearly 14% of Washoe’s population has received the first COVID-19 vaccine, and Carson City leads the state in vaccinations per population.

For more information, you can find Nevada’s COVID-19 dashboard here and Washoe County’s dashboard here.

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

WCHD Not Vaccinating People 65 To 69 Yet
By Olivia Ali

Vaccines are becoming increasingly available for Washoe County residents 65 and older. During a press conference, a spokesperson for the health district said they are not vaccinating people aged 65 to 69 just yet, but private distributors have begun doing so.

The widening in availability for vaccinations comes after an announcement last week from Governor Steve Sisolak that all pharmacies could begin vaccinating people in this age group. According to the district, they do not want to begin vaccinating this age group until residents 70 and older are fully vaccinated.

Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Friday, February 19, 2021

5:45 p.m. | February 19, 2021

Washoe County’s Test Positivity Rate Dips Below The Elevated Disease Transmission Threshold
By Michelle Billman

In Washoe County, health officials are reporting that the test positivity rate for COVID-19 has dropped below 8% to 7.9%. They say the threshold for elevated disease transmission determined by the state of Nevada is 8%, so the county is now under that threshold. 

Starting next week, residents who are between the ages of 65 and 69 can start getting the vaccine from pharmacies as part of the federal pharmacy partnership program. On Friday in Washoe, three new COVID-19 deaths are being reported along with 57 new cases and 250 recoveries. A total of 638 deaths related to the virus have been reported. 

Statewide, Nevada has reached more than 4,830 cumulative deaths and more than 290,000 cases since the start of the pandemic. The two-week average for new daily cases is now down to 410. 

NDVS Launches The Heroes For Heroes Program
By Jayden Perez

A new statewide initiative has been launched to combat the isolation many veterans are experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative is called Heroes for Heroes and was created by the Nevada Department of Veteran Services. The program aims to connect community volunteers with veterans to provide online and phone-based services to offset loneliness and offer support. 

The program will train volunteers on topics like veteran culture, suicide prevention, and elder abuse prevention. After their training, volunteers will check-in with their veteran partners on a regular basis.

Veterans who want to receive the support are asked to complete an online application before being partnered with a volunteer. 

Emergency COVID-19 Care Facility Receives $6.4 Million 
By Jayden Perez

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded nearly $6.5 million to Renown Medical Center.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto made the announcement Friday. The money was awarded to reimburse Renown for the temporary hospital that it set up in a parking garage in Reno to cope with COVID-19 case surges in April and November of 2020.  

California Loosens Rules For Youth Sports During Pandemic
By The Associated Press

California public health officials have loosened the rules for youth sports to be played during the pandemic. New guidance released Friday says all outdoor sports can resume in counties where COVID-19 case rates are at or below 14 people per 100,000. High contact sports like football, basketball and rugby, can resume if all players 13 and older get tested once per week. That testing requirement also applies to coaches. Twenty-seven counties currently have case rates at or below 14 people per 100,000. The biggest is Santa Clara county, which includes the city of San Jose. An additional 16 counties have case rates between 14 and 20 people per 100,000.

California Vaccinations Hit By Icy Weather Shipment Delays
By The Associated Press

California has closed some vaccination centers and delayed appointments following winter storms elsewhere in the country that hampered the shipment of doses. Orange County shut its large-scale vaccination site at Disneyland through Monday after a shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses didn't arrive this week. In Los Angeles, city officials postponed vaccine appointments for about 12,500 people after vaccine shipments were tied up in Kentucky and Tennessee due to harsh weather conditions. California has given 6.7 million shots to date. State and county health officials have repeatedly said their push to inoculate more people is limited by vaccine supplies.

California Will Set Aside Vaccine Doses For Educators, Staff
By The Associated Press

California plans to set aside 10 percent of first vaccine doses for educators, school staff and childcare providers starting in March to help get children back in classrooms. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he hopes the move will help jumpstart in-person learning. It comes a day after California's legislative leaders agreed on a $6.5 billion proposal aimed at reopening schools this spring that Newsom said doesn't move fast enough and suggested he could veto. It also comes as California temporarily closed some vaccination centers and delayed appointments following winter storms elsewhere in the country that hampered the shipment of doses.

Nevada Still Awaiting Vaccine Shipment Delayed By Weather
By The Associated Press

Nevada is still waiting for a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines that was supposed to arrive this week but was delayed by winter storms blanketing much of the U.S. Nevada health official Candice McDaniel said the majority of the Moderna doses expected to arrive this week had still not arrived as of Friday morning. She says the state is in close contact with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get updates on the shipment but did not have details about when the doses would arrive. The Southern Nevada Health District has postponed about four-thousand appointments for second doses because of the delay.
Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Thursday, February 18, 2021

6:42 p.m. | February 18, 2021

Nevada Registers Slight Uptick In Daily Cases Despite Overall Downward Trend
By Paul Boger

Nevada saw a slight uptick in the number of new coronavirus cases and an additional 31 COVID deaths Thursday. 

The state Department of Health and Human Services reported 488 new cases of COVID-19, statewide. That's higher than the state's two-week rolling average of new daily cases, which has trended downward since early-January. 

Nevada's test positivity rate has also seen steady declines in recent weeks, falling to 11.3%. The World Health Organization recommends less than a 5% positivity rate before governments fully reopen. 

There are currently fewer than 700 people being hospitalized for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in Nevada.

Statewide, 289,880 people have, so far, contracted the virus and 4,805 people have died.

In Washoe County, health officials reported two additional COVID-19 deaths and 38 new cases Thursday. There are 6.076 active cases, countywide. COVID-19 has killed 635 people in Washoe County since the start of the pandemic.

Carson City Health and Human Services reported 17 new cases and zero deaths Thursday. 

Roughly 2,200 cases remain active in the area surrounding Carson City, while 203 people from the area have died from COVID-19 since last March. 

South African Strain Confirmed In Nevada
By The Associated Press

Nevada health officials have officially confirmed the state's first known case of a coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa. The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory confirmed the existence of the B-1-3-5-1 strain in Washoe County, Thursday. According to lab director Doctor Mark Pandori, the sample was traced to a person who traveled from South Africa and began showing symptoms after arriving in Reno. He saids the new strain underlines the continued need to keep the virus in check. "If we allow variants to come out, and then those variants to variate and change on themselves, we are going to potentially be in a situation where we are facing a whole new foe." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected the variant in 10 other states thus far. Nevada has also reported six known cases of a more contagious coronavirus variant that first originated in the United Kingdom.

California Lawmakers Eye Low-Income COVID-Relief Package
By The Associated Press

Millions of low-income Californians could receive $600 checks under a coronavirus aid package proposed by state lawmakers. Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced this week they've agreed to cut checks to millions of people who earn less than $30,000 per year. The money would also go to some immigrants who were excluded from federal relief payments during the Trump administration. Small business grants and more housing assistance for farmworkers infected by the virus are also included in the proposal. Lawmakers say they plan to vote in the $9.6 billion relief package as early as next Monday.

Novel Coronavirus In Nevada: Wednesday, February 17, 2021

6:00 p.m. | February 17, 2021

Nevadans 65 And Older Will Be Eligible For Vaccine, High School Contact Sports Can Soon Resume
By Olivia Ali

Beginning next week, everyone in Nevada who is 65 and older will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations.

In a press conference Wednesday, Governor Steve Sisolak shared several COVID-19 updates, including the introduction of statewide vaccination rollouts for people over the age of 65. 

“Some of Nevada’s counties have already begun vaccinating those 65 and older, but some of our larger counties have not. Beginning next week, the state will be opening immunization opportunities to Nevadans 65 and older through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program in all counties,” Sisolak said.

This program will make vaccinations available to those 65 and older at private pharmacies only, unless the specific county has already made their vaccines available for this age group.

Sisolak also announced that full contact sports could resume across the state’s high schools once certain protocols are met by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA).

“In order to allow NIAA full contact sports to take place, the NIAA must develop a mandatory COVID-19 testing and mitigation plan that then must be adopted and followed by each school district and school intendent [sic] to allow full contact sports,” Sisolak said.

The NIAA plans must include weekly testing and social distancing, at a minimum.

Washoe COVID-19 Cases See Downward Trend Since Late November
By Lucia Starbuck

COVID-19 cases in Washoe County have been declining, and according to the head of the county health district Kevin Dick, cases have been on a downward trend since the end of November.

This is surprising, considering there have been major holidays since then. Dick breaks down what the county has seen since gatherings for Halloween and Nevada Day caused case spikes back in the fall.

“I think that helped get some people’s attention that these past practices of gatherings were not a good idea. And while we did see some leveling out, and maybe just a slight increase in our decline that occurred in December following Thanksgiving, it wasn't enough to cause a significant new spike,” Dick said.

There have been an average of about 51 new daily cases and two deaths per day over the last two weeks in Washoe.

Statewide, there have been under 500 new daily cases, on average, along with 14 deaths per day during that same period.

For more information, you can find Nevada’s COVID-19 dashboard here, and Washoe County’s here

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

WCHD Investigates Potential South African COVID-19 Variant In Washoe County
By Olivia Ali

Officials with the Washoe County Health District said they are aware of the possible presence of the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus in the county. 

Health District officer Kevin Dick said Wednesday that a traveler in the county has recently come from South Africa and tested positive for the virus. However, there has not been a confirmation whether the test was positive for the South African variant of the virus, formally called B.1.351.

The strain is concerning scientists due to its contagious nature and large number of mutations, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new variant has been detected in at least 40 countries, including the United States.

WCHD Experiences Vaccine Delivery Delay Due To Weather
By Olivia Ali

Washoe County is experiencing a delay in some vaccine shipments due to extreme weather events across the country, including winter storms across the Midwest. Health District officer Kevin Dick said the delay is happening nationwide.

The health district received its scheduled Pfizer vaccine allotment on time. However, weather has delayed the county’s shipment of the Moderna vaccine. 

Despite delays, the health district has begun vaccinating veterinarians, public transportation employees and other workers in the frontline community support category. To date, nearly 50,000 people in Washoe County have received the first dose of the vaccine. Almost 30,000 of them have received both doses.

Get Caught Up:

February 17, 2021 | Regional Updates

  • New Daily Case Average In Nevada Now Below 500
  • More Than 75,000 Vaccines Administered in Washoe County
  • University Of Nevada, Reno Developing New Means Of Disinfecting COVID-19
  • Sisolak Ends Nevada’s COVID Pause, Gradually Ease Restrictions
  • Lawmakers Approve $50 Million In Small Business COVID Relief
  • Under 10% Of Nevadans Have Received First COVID-19 Shot
  • 2021 Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Canceled (Again)

For continued updates on the novel coronavirus in Nevada, visit our related stories page.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning journalist covering politics, focusing on democracy and solutions for KUNR Public Radio. Her goal is to provide helpful and informative coverage for everyday Nevadans.
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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