Washoe County Health District

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.

CDC

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

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.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that for the fifth consecutive year, cases of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis have risen in the United States. Nevada tops the nation for the rate of primary and secondary syphilis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the rise of STDs nationwide broke a new record for the fifth consecutive year. KUNR’s Anh Gray reports Nevada continues to top the list for the highest rate of primary and secondary syphilis.

Rubén Bagüés via Unsplash

Public health officials in Nevada are urging people to stop using e-cigarettes as the country grapples with an epidemic of vaping-related severe lung illness. KUNR’s Anh Gray reports.

The current measles outbreak across several states is highlighting the need for rapid response from local public health agencies. In Nevada, financial investment in public health ranks 50th in the nation. KUNR’s Anh Gray explores what that low investment means for Washoe County.

The Nevada County Health Rankings Report was recently released. Washoe County came in sixth place in the state for overall health, a jump from the previous year. KUNR’s Anh Gray reports that affordable housing, access to mental health care and substance abuse are still big issues.

Disaster planning often focuses on treating adults and overlooks the special needs of children. KUNR’s Anh Gray reports as more communities nationwide experience gun violence, emergency workers are learning how to care for young victims of mass shootings.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Washoe County Health District is confirming the first case of the measles in the region since 1999. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray has more.

Health Officials say that the infected person is a University of Nevada, Reno student, and that he does not pose an ongoing risk. Randall Todd is an epidemiologist with the health district.

Alexa Ard

This flu season has been one of the most severe in recent years. In the last two weeks, though, the flu epidemic has eased nationally. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray checks in with a Washoe County epidemiologist to see how the region is faring.

Kerry Chalkley is an epidemiologist with the Washoe County Health District. She’s been tracking the flu epidemic in the region throughout this season.

REMSA

In a recent two-week period, there were more than one thousand lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Washoe County. Due to the outbreak, the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority, or REMSA, is experiencing record-breaking calls for service. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray reports, as a result, paramedics will be taking precautionary measures.

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