Douglas County is working on an action plan after being flagged for elevated coronavirus transmission over the past three weeks.
The county is one of a dozen in Nevada that have exceeded two of the state’s three criteria, including cases per 100,000 and test positivity, according to information released on Monday.
“At this time the data shows an increase in cases which is impacting our healthcare system, our first responders and health care workers,” said Douglas County Manager Patrick Cates. “This is not a workforce that can be easily replaced. With COVID-19 numbers rising we are asking people to be vigilant and do what they can to slow down the spread, keep our local economy open, and keep our most vulnerable safe. Our public health professionals anticipated this winter surge and are monitoring the situation closely. Every jurisdiction, rural and urban, is pulling in the same direction to get our infection numbers down.”
Douglas County is required to submit a self-assessment and action plan to the state task force to outline how it can decrease numbers. Douglas County officials have begun the process of completing an assessment and action plan and will present their report on Thursday.
Douglas has increased its average number of tests per day.
“Douglas County struggled with testing numbers back in September and early October,” according to the county. “Since then, turnout at mass testing events has been outstanding and Douglas County is currently meeting this standard.”
A mass testing on Nov. 10 drew 432 participate in a combined coronavirus testing and flu clinic, according to Emergency Manager Tod Carlini.
Test positivity has also increased above the threshold. Participating in community testing helps reduce the number, and Cates urged residents to do that.
The number of cases per 100,000 increased sharply as November began.
“Douglas County had been doing great with this number until the beginning of November,” Cates said. “Now we are seeing a sharp rise in daily new cases. This is happening in all the counties in Nevada. Douglas is now in the red zone for this metric and needs to improve. That won’t improve unless people redouble their efforts to stop the spread.”
The county asked residents to consider the impact of spreading the coronavirus and the flu has on regional hospitals.
“Hospitals in northwestern Nevada are at or approaching capacity, with limited ability to transfer patients or take on new ones,” Cates said. “This is as true for our own providers in the county as it is for the big hospitals in Reno. Renown recently reported opening their alternative care site in their parking garage to handle the surge. They prepared this space back in the spring and have not needed it until now.”
Healthcare providers and first responders are seeing sharp increases in infections among their own ranks, jeopardizing continuity of operations for critical emergency services. The upcoming holidays, flu season and winter weather accidents increase hospital usage throughout the region. COVID is one more ailment that crowds our local and regional hospitals.
“Looking into the future, I am optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Cates said. “There are two promising vaccines that are nearing final approval. We anticipate vaccine availability after the first of the year as supplies ramp up and are administered first to the most vulnerable populations and first responders. I am hopeful by spring, we will have widespread vaccinations. Until then, keep up the good work and do the right thing for yourself, your family, and the community.”
While no county services have been shut down at this time, many still remain by appointment only. Douglas County employees have also been asked to work from home where it is feasible.
Douglas County continues to work with Carson City Health and Human Services and the State of Nevada is working on faster turn around and notification for testing. Douglas County would like to remind the public that if you have taken a rapid response test it is important to also verify results with your local public health agency.
Carson City Health and Human Services has a new phone number for the Quad-County COVID-19 Hotline. Starting Tuesday, November 17th the phone number will be (775)434-1988. The hotline is staffed Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The change is required to handle the volume of calls regarding questions about COVID and the number of people interested in being tested.
The Carson agency will continue to offer testing to Quad-County residents with and without symptoms. Drive-thru COVID-19 testing events are for Quad-County residents only, all others will be turned away. Residents can call the Quad-County COIVD-19 hotline at (775) 434-1988 to be assessed for testing. All COVID testing offered through Carson City Health and Human Services is free of charge.
Douglas County is urging all residents and businesses to follow the recommendations of CDC to reduce the spread of COVID. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
For all testing information and Douglas County locations, visit: https://gethealthycarsoncity.org/community-based-covid-19-testing/