Washoe County Health District | KUNR

Washoe County Health District

PLSublett / Creative Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.

An older man in a mask pushes a dolly with a white box on it. In the background is the back of a white Fedex truck.
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio

The much anticipated first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Washoe County Tuesday morning. KUNR's Lucia Starbuck was there when the truck rolled into town.

A digital illustration looking down on about 40 people. Each person is standing on a gray circle and each circle is connected to another circle by a gray line.
Bobboz / Adobe Stock

Nevada officials reported a little over 3,000 COVID-19 cases Wednesday. As Nevada sees a surge in COVID-19 cases, contact tracers are struggling to keep up. The state is instructing disease investigators to curtail some of their questions and prioritize who to talk to.

A close up of an older man, in a blue surgical mask, from the shoulders up. There is a beige, out of focus wall behind the man.
David Calvert / Nevada Independent

Nevada could be receiving COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as mid-December.

The image is dark except for four candles in a row going diagonally across the image. The candle second to the front is the only one in focus.
Rawpixel / Adobe Stock

In Washoe, over 250 residents have died due to COVID-19. And 65 of those deaths were reported in the last 30 days. That accounts for a quarter of all total COVID-19 deaths in the county. The region’s coroner is concerned funeral homes are nearing capacity.

A long wall that’s waist high that says Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. There is a fence behind the wall that blocks access to a parking lot in the background.
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio

Limiting social gatherings has been challenging as COVID fatigue and social isolation set in during the pandemic. As KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck reports, public health measures aren’t being followed by everyone.

A sign outside that says, “Reno Tahoe International Airport,” with a sign beneath it in the grass that says, “RENO,” in large letters.
Trevor Bexon

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to hold an in-person event at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Thursday, sparking COVID-19 concerns as Washoe County sees widespread transmission of the virus.

Leaves from trees framing the edges of the image. In the distance there is a red tent. The sky is light gray.
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio

In Washoe County, the air quality has been deemed unhealthy for sensitive groups for more than 20 days in the last month due to fires in California. When air quality is compromised, people are recommended to limit their time outside, but unsheltered individuals can’t always do that.

A scientist is examing a range of COVID-19 antibody tests in a research lab.
Brin Reynolds / UNR Med

Coverage of novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

The Washoe County Health District is conducting its first antibody study to learn the prevalence of COVID-19 in the general population. This requires a blood test that looks for antibodies, which are the body’s immune response to a past infection.


Coverage of the novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

Public health officials are using contact tracing to track and isolate people infected with COVID-19 or those who might have been exposed. This is a routine public health surveillance tool that can be effective for infectious disease control, but the workforce needs to ramp up in order to respond to the coronavirus. In this report, KUNR's Anh Gray and Lucia Starbuck team up to explore the challenges with contact tracing and how the Nevada National Guard will be stepping in to fill some gaps. 

Health care workers at a Washoe County Health District drive-through testing site.
Bree Zender

Coverage of novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

Editor's Note: This story aired before Washoe County Regional Information Center held a virtual press conference on April 24th. Washoe County Health District Kevin Dick provided new information about testing in the community. He says the state has requested the county to target 1,000 COVID-19 tests per day beginning Monday, April 27th. Dick says the county does not have the capacity to reach that target yet since there is currently still a shortage of testing supplies and equipment to process that amount. The district is currently working with the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory and other agencies to increase capacity, and will provide more information on the process next week. 

When will the state’s shutdown be lifted is on the minds of many Nevadans. Governor Steve Sisolak held a press conference earlier this week to update residents.

“Due to the criteria that was developed by the state team and in accordance with White House guidance,” Sisolak said, “as of right now, I can not give you a firm date as to whether we will meet all of this criteria to begin phase one reopening plans.”

As KUNR’s Anh Gray reports, those criteria include meeting health benchmarks, which will require more testing.

The exterior of the Willow Springs facility in Reno, Nevada.
Screenshot / Google Maps

Coverage of novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

There have been 15 COVID-19-related deaths in Washoe County so far. A third of those deaths are tied to two state-regulated facilities in Reno. KUNR News Director Michelle Billman checks in with Anh Gray, KUNR's public health reporter, for more information about those two outbreaks.

Nurse holds COVID-19 Sample Kit
Bree Zender / KUNR Public Radio

If you’re starting to feel sick, what do you do? Sore throat, exhaustion, trouble breathing... No doubt at that point you’d have COVID-19 on your mind.

Man in protective gear shows medical equipment
Bree Zender / KUNR Public Radio

Some people who have flu-like symptoms may not be sure if they should get tested for COVID-19. The Washoe County Health District has a set of criteria for who should be tested. The criteria the district sets is based on recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Several tents are being dismantled.
Stephanie Serrano / KUNR Public Radio

137 tents that were turned into homes by people living on the streets of Reno were removed by law enforcement on Wednesday, March 4.

Editor's note: this story contains adult language. 

Coronavirus In Nevada: Live Blog

Mar 5, 2020

Coronavirus In Nevada Updates: Wednesday, March 18

10:17 p.m. PDT | March 18, 2020
By Michelle Billman

State Total Of COVID-19 Cases Hits 85

A microscopic picture of COVID-19
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases / Flickr, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

An official from the Washoe County Health District said the county doesn’t have adequate staffing to respond to a possible outbreak of coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Cannabis plants under green light.
Vera Samburova/DRI

The same chemicals that give cannabis its distinct smell may be contributing to air pollution and affecting human health. Recent tests of four cannabis grow facilities in Nevada and California found that the plants naturally release compounds that, when they accumulate in the air, create smog.

People sitting around computer.
Brooke Cagle at Unsplash

Sexually transmitted diseases nationwide have risen to a record high for the fifth consecutive year, and for those with STDs, dating and disclosure of their health status can pose additional challenges. KUNR’s Anh Gray has been reporting on this issue. Today she explores how technology can help with overcoming some of the stigmas.

An infographic about STDs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The common use of dating apps has been attributed to more casual sexual encounters. Health officials say this type of hook-up culture is one factor in the spike of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Right now, the combined number of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are at an all-time high nationally. KUNR’s Anh Gray talks with Jennifer Howell, who’s with the sexual health program at the Washoe County Health District, to learn more.