Douglas schools report third coronavirus case in three days |

Douglas schools report third coronavirus case in three days

A sign reminds residents to wear masks at the Douglas County Community Center.
Kurt Hildebrand

Less than two weeks after Carson Valley schools started in-person sessions, at least four schools have been affected by the coronavirus.

On Friday, the Douglas County School District confirmed a third coronavirus case, and the second related to Douglas High School.

“I want to highlight that we have no evidence to suggest any of our three cases are connected,” Superintendent Keith Lewis said in announcing the case. “We have already identified and notified close contacts,” 

That makes three cases in three days, within two weeks of opening Carson Valley schools on Aug. 17. The second case affected Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School in the Gardnerville Ranchos.

On Wednesday, Lewis confirmed a case could affect a small number of people at Gardnerville Elementary, Carson Valley Middle and Douglas High schools.

“I’m hoping this is not going to be my every night activity,” Lewis said on Thursday.

Because of laws governing patient confidentiality, the district won’t release any more specific information about the positive cases.

Seven new Douglas coronavirus cases were announced on Friday evening with no recoveries. The new cases included four women in their 30s and 40s and two men — one in his 30s and one in his 60s — with no connection to a previously reported case.  

The only new case with a connection was a boy under the age of 18.

“We have been working collaboratively with Carson City Health to contact trace everyone that may be a close contact in an effort to prevent any further spread,” said East Fork Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Dave Fogerson.

School is scheduled to start at Lake Tahoe schools Zephyr Cove and Whittell on Monday.

“(The district) is working with Carson City Health and Human Services and Douglas County Emergency Management on contact tracing and notification to those individuals who may be considered close contacts,” Superintendent Keith Lewis said on Wednesday. “We are confident in the contact tracing process, and as a result, we anticipate that a very small number of individuals will be excluded from school for 14 days.”

Lewis said those students excluded from school will be provided with distance learning by their teacher.

The district is following enhanced cleaning protocols established over the summer to accommodate the combination in-person and distance learning schedule established to open schools.

The Carson City health agency serves as public health officer for Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties, as well as the capital.

As of Thursday night, Douglas has 19 active cases with 235 recoveries and one death.

The county’s caseload more than doubled between July 14 and Aug. 14 with 121 cases.

Two new cases were reported on Wednesday, but none on Thursday.

Douglas County Emergency Manager Tod Carlini said that the county has managed to hold its own with an 8.6 percent active rate for cases.

“We need to continue to keep up the effort and messaging regarding the four best ways to dampen the numbers,” he said. “Wear a face covers. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. If you are sick, stay home. We are seeing results. Positive results will continue to allow recovery to move forward. We need to make this effort about public health and not politics. We need to apply these practices and understand that our economic survival is dependent up them.”

Carlini conceded that fatigue has set in for residents and those who are working to contain the virus.

On Tuesday, community coronavirus testing attracted slightly more than 100 residents, a quarter of those who attended testing at Douglas High School.

On Wednesday, Nevada health officials said they will continue to recommend testing for anyone who has been in close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus whether they have symptoms or not.

The statement was a reaction to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changing their testing guidance earlier this week to say that some individuals without symptoms may not need to be tested. 

“The continued testing of asymptomatic individuals is vital in helping state and local health officials determine the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Nevada Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ishan Azzam. “(Testing is) a critical component of our contact tracing efforts, especially due to the fact that a significant number of transmissions can come from people not experiencing symptoms.”