COVID-19 Update in Washoe County
Updated case count and answers to common questions

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Scott Oxarart
775.328.2414 or 775.276.1021

Reno, Nev. March 17, 2020. The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) is working diligently on the COVID-19 outbreak in Washoe County and has an update on several items.

Washoe County Case Count

WCHD has received three additional cases of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), increasing the total in Washoe County to 12.

  • A man in his 60s with recent travel to the Bay Area in California.
  • A man in his 60s with close contact to a previously-identified case in Washoe County.
  • A woman in her 30s who traveled to Europe.

All cases are self isolating and are in stable condition. The Health District is investigating and working to identify close risk contacts to prevent community spread of the disease. Due to medical privacy requirements and to protect their identity, no further information about the case will be released.

Cruise Ship Passengers

All Washoe County residents who flew from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Sunday have been safely transported to their residences. All residents who returned were screened upon arrival and showed no symptoms of COVID-19. The residents were tested for COVID-19 before they flew home and we should get those results soon. No Washoe County passengers have tested positive for COVID-19. WCHD staff, who performed the screenings, drove the vehicles and wore personal protective equipment. Precautions were taken to ensure that the returning residents had no contact with any public spaces and those efforts were successful.

COVID-19 Call Center

We are receiving an influx of calls to our call center and working very hard to answer them with limited wait times. We ask for patience from the community. As a reminder, residents who have traveled outside Nevada can also fill out an online form, which can be found here.

COVID-19 Testing

WCHD is continuing its drive through testing. Our epidemiologists are screening those who are high risk. The Governor’s Office is working with State and Federal partners to address the shortage in Nevada on test kits and efforts to increase testing to more residents. Information about the testing process can be found here (en Espanol).

“What should I do if I’m feeling sick?”

This is a common question that our call center is receiving. While our current protocol is to test those who are at the highest risk (those who have had close contact with a confirmed case, or who are symptomatic and traveled to places with high COVID-19 transmission), it’s completely normal to worry that you might have COVID-19. We are working with the Governor's Office and our community partners on increasing testing capabilities, but in the meantime please see resources on the Washoe County website and on the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website on what to do if you’re sick. If your symptoms are mild to moderate and you have no underlying health conditions, please continue to self isolate at home.

“How can I protect myself?”

The Health District developed some tips, which are similar to what the CDC recommends, on what people can do to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19. Employers should recognize the risk of allowing sick employees to come to work.

“Who’s at the highest risk?”

According to the CDC, older adults and people who have underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. They advise to consult with your health care provider about additional steps you may be able to take to protect yourself.

“Can you provide a note to my employer?”

The Washoe County Health District is no longer providing exclusion letters to employers on behalf of residents.

“What are the self-isolation requirements for those who have COVID-19 and their close contacts?”

We have routine check in with those who have COVID-19. We track how they are feeling and ensure that they’re conforming to the self-isolation process. If needed, under the authority of NRS 441A as the health authority we have the ability to isolate or quarantine a person or group of persons.

“If we continue to get more and more cases, how will WCHD be able to continue contact tracing?”

WCHD is evaluating our processes and will have more information if changes need to be made.

Health District clinical services

All Washoe County Health District community and clinical services are still operational; however, we are working to handle most of our services over the phone or online and reduce our patient contact with staff. Our Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Program is conducting call-in appointments only and we don’t expect this to disrupt any services to the community.  Our Immunizations, Family Planning and Sexual Health program appointments are being rescheduled if necessary. We ask that anyone visiting one of our clinics that they call ahead at 775-328-2441. No persons will be allowed in if they are experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.

More information on COVID-19 can be found at Residents concerned they might have COVID-19 can contact their healthcare provider or telemedicine provider, or call the Health District at 775-328-2427 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, or 3-1-1 after hours.

Media: There are no media briefings scheduled due to concerns about social distancing. We will have more information about digital press briefings.

The Washoe County Health District is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »