COVID-19 continues to spread in Washoe County as the highly transmissible omicron variant makes its way across the region. On January 5, the Washoe County Health District reported that recent waster sampling submitted by the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility found a tenfold increase in COVID-19 and the omicron variant. As of early January, there have been at least 61 cases of the omicron variant confirmed just based on a portion of the positive tests sequenced. This suggests that the true number of people infected with omicron is significantly higher.
The wastewater samples fall in line with the data showing concentrations of COVID-19 cases increasing over the holidays.
“This data is predictive of the significant increase in new cases that we are currently experiencing,” Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick said last week. With the high spread of the omicron variant, the Health District recommends getting a Covid test if you are showing signs of the virus or have been in close contact with anyone who has it.
Due to increase in Covid cases, Washoe County has extended its testing hours and locations to supply free Covid tests seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the following locations:
- Bartley Ranch Regional Park, 6000 Bartley Ranch Rd, Reno
- Eagle Canyon Park, 400 Eagle Canyon Drive, Spanish Springs
- South Valleys Regional Park, 15650 Wedge Pkwy, Reno
- North Valleys Regional Park, 8085 Silver Lake Rd, Reno
With the rise in Covid cases, Renown Health wants to ensure Washoe County residents that it has the capacity, technology, staffing, equipment, and supplies to serve patients afflicted with COVID-19 or any other illness.
“Every community member can feel confident that Renown has a trained team of physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, medical assistants, care managers, and physical/occupational therapists around the clock every day to ensure that no matter the illness or injury every patient will be treated with compassion and the appropriate degree of care,” says Renown Health Chief Medical Officer of Acute Services Susan Lee, MD, MBA.
Renown has 11 urgent cares, emergency departments, and medical centers throughout the Reno area.
“News about the COVID-19 may be making you feel anxious about going to the emergency room (ER) or getting the medical care you need,” adds Renown Emergency Medicine Physician Bret W. Frey, MD.
“Delaying care for a medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke can be life threatening or lead to serious complications. We are here for you around the clock and have taken all precautions to be sure that visits to the ER and hospital are as safe as possible.”
Dr. Frey also wants to remind people to not visit emergency rooms if you do not have a non-life threatening symptom such as a cough or sore throat. People are welcome to use Renown’s MyChart “Talk to a Doctor” virtual portal, obtain free COVID-19 screening and testing through the Washoe County Health District, or contact Renown at 775-982- 5000 to make an appointment with a primary care provider.
The cases nearly tripled in a week in Washoe County as 2,802 cases and 11 deaths were reported in the latest week. Just one week earlier, the county had reported 1,061 cases and three deaths.
Renown’s analytic data shows that omicron is expected to peak in northern Nevada sometime between January 10 and February 10. As of January 5, less than nine percent (43 patients) were hospitalized with Covid at Renown’s Regional Medical Center and South Meadows facility but warns that those numbers could change at any time.
The Health District believes that getting the COVID-19 vaccine and added boosters is the best way to protect oneself from sever illness, hospitalization, or death from the virus.
“We hope people will understand that COVID-19 is still impacting the community. Omicron is here in a big way and receiving a COVID-19 vaccination and booster when eligible, is what’s going to help us get through this pandemic in the safest way possible.”
Renown Health agrees with that sentiment, saying that getting vaccinated provides the best protection against omicron and COVID-19.
“The most important action you can take to protect yourself from the Delta and Omicron strains and the COVID-19 virus is to get fully vaccinated,” says Dr. Brion Hill who is based out of the Renown Urgent Care in Los Altos, California.
“The COVID-19 virus and its related strains are preventable and controllable through safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, which are free and now widely available in our area. The CDC recommends all people five years and older be vaccinated against COVID-19. Data shows that nearly all COVID-19 deaths are now occurring among unvaccinated individuals,” he adds.
For more information about COVID-19 testing and vaccination information in Washoe County, visit https:// covid19washoe.com/.