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Most coronavirus patients don’t know where they were exposed

In three days, 18 Douglas County residents were reported to have the coronavirus, with the largest single day increase on Thursday with nine cases

Of the 18 new cases reported by Carson City Health and Human services, only six had any known connection to a previous case.

Those included a girl, a teenage woman, a man in his 50s, two women in their 50s and 60s and a man in his 20s who was exposed at a work, according to the agency, which serves as the Douglas County public health officer.

The new cases were split evenly between men and woman and ages ranged from teens to a man in his 70s.

On Thursday, Washoe County Public Health Officer Kevin Dick said he recommended that Washoe schools not reopen due to the coronavirus spike.

He said the county has exceeded the 100 per 100,000 threshold of new cases over the past 14 days, with 190.

With the spike, Douglas County is rapidly approaching the threshold of 49 new cases in 14 days with 42 since July 10, according to figures released on Friday.

About 30 percent of the coronavirus cases in Douglas, Carson, Lyon and Storey are among residents who have someone in their household with the virus.

Carson City Health and Human Services Epidemiologist Dustin Boothe said many of the rest of the patients can’t identify where they might have been exposed.

Reports coming out of the agency that serves as Douglas County’s public health agency try to list a source when one’s available, but most say there was no known contact.

“People are telling us they don’t know anyone else who is positive,” he said. “The message is that wearing face masks and social distancing limits your exposure to the virus. The people who have it either don’t have symptoms or their symptoms are very minor. Either they think it’s the smoke coming in or allergies.”

On Monday, Boothe told the Douglas County Board of Health that’s why the more interactions people have, the more chance they will come in contact with someone who has the virus but doesn’t know.

Boothe suggested that anyone with symptoms in Carson, Douglas, Lyon or Storey call the agency’s hotline at 775-283-4789 and they will schedule a test.

Douglas Chairman Dr. John Holman said a University of Nevada, Reno, study showed that up to five times as many residents may have been exposed to the virus than previously thought.

The UNR study sent notices to 1,270 people and received about 234 responses. According to the anti-body test 2.3 percent of Washoe residents had an immune response indicating they’ve had or have been exposed to the virus.

Extrapolating to Washoe’s entire population that means as many as 8,230 adult infections have occurred, while 1,838, or about 22.3 percent, cases have been confirmed.

Researchers concluded that the rate of infection is 4.5-5 times higher than the number of reported cases.

“A positive SARS-CoV-2 antibody test indicates someone’s body has built an immune response to the virus; however the scientific community is still learning how long this immune response will last,” according to UNR.

Boothe said plans to conduct random antibody testing in the area covered by Health and Human Services is being explored.

Whether the agency will be testing 280 people in all four counties or that many in each county will depend on the resources available.

Unlike the community testing being done using nasal swabs, the antibody testing requires a blood draw.

Sheriff Dan Coverley said that one Douglas deputy has tested positive for the virus, but there have been no instances in the jail.

“So far, we’re very successful,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can and keeping our fingers crossed.”

Coverley said the sheriff’s office is likely a reflection of the community, which is doing well as a whole.

The Board of Health is also preparing for the 2020 flu season, which could see increases in the demand for hospital beds.

That was one of the concerns in spring, which was the end of last year’s flu season.

Flu shots don’t prevent the flu, they just reduce its effects so people with influenza aren’t taking up hospital beds.

Holman said the best time to get a flu shot is in late October because they only last six months and the Western Nevada flu season often lasts through March.