Nevada’s COVID-19 Task Force emergency meeting settles on new ‘combined’ Washoe County plan to fight spread of the virus


Courtesy: Washoe County Health District

WASHOE COUNTY, Nev. (KLAS) — As COVID-19 cases continue to increase in Nevada’s second-largest county, the Nevada COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force held an emergency meeting. On Thursday, different Washoe County officials discussed their current status with individual plans to combat the county’s increasing COVID-19 trends.

In today’s meeting, Director Caleb Cage was concerned that the plans presented did not show much difference from the last plans submitted. After review, a motion was unanimously passed for a new “combined” plan for Washoe to combat COVID-19. These new restrictions will go into effect on Nov. 5.

“My challenge today is that the plan we received yesterday evening does not appear to be terribly different than what we received at that time,” said Cage. “I don’t want to do any closures.”


Cage added that he doesn’t see additional measures in place, based on what was approved when officials reopened bars and taverns.

Cage said it is not a matter of opening everything up or closing everything down, “it’s somewhere in between.”

The new plan that all task force and county officials approved moving forward with, included:

  • Increased enforcement between the three jurisdictions
  • City-level community testing
  • Targeted testing in key zip codes
  • Improving testing turnaround
  • Improved communication, which is already funded and soft-launched
  • Events reduced to 50 people or 50% capacity

Washoe County, the City of Reno and City of Sparks agreed to return to the restrictions that were in place before implementation of Directive 33. They will now limit the size of gatherings from the current 250 limit to 50 people or fewer while reviewing requests for outside events on a case by case basis. 

Moving forward, jurisdictions will increase their public education and communication outreach through their existing “Mask On, Move On” outreach campaign.

“We are ready to handle this situation, we just need community cooperation,” said Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey.

The local business community, Washoe County School District, University of Nevada, Reno, Economic Development in Reno, Sparks, and Tahoe, and the Chamber of Commerce will engage in a community call to action to modify current behavior and reduce the spread.

Terry Reynolds, the director of the Department of Business and Industry, says he sees inconsistencies in how the pandemic is being handled in Washoe County. Adding that, “it is fine to put measures in print, but someone needs to remind people and check-in to make sure that people are enforcing the compliance rules and safety measures.”

Washoe County Assessment found: 

  • COVID-19 is widespread in Washoe County and is mostly occurring through community transmission that is not tied to known cases of infection. 
  • As of Oct. 27, the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases in Washoe County was 157, a 24% increase in new cases from the previous week. 
  • Washoe County test positivity rate has increased over the past week from 8.5% to 9.1%, despite the number of tests per day increasing. 
  • Washoe County has seen significant increase in numbers of cases occurring in the 30-59-year-old age range, in addition to the 20-29-year-old ranges in the last several weeks.  
  • Washoe County has also seen an increase in cases in the 0-9 and 10-19 age ranges, but not as large as the aforementioned.
  • The number of tests per 100,000 population has increased from 260 per day to 296 tests per day. 
  • Licensed ICU beds in Washoe County hospital occupancy rates are 66% and 46% respectively for general hospital and intensive care units. 79% of staffed hospital beds are occupied. 
  • The status of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) remains good in the county 

Washoe County has seen an increasing trend in COVID-19 data since Sept. 28, according to data tracked by the state and reported from the Washoe County Health District.  

Just on Friday, Washoe recorded its largest single-day increase in total and active COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with an additional 350. There are now more than 12,000 cases in the county.

As of Sunday, Washoe was set to be flagged for the fifth week in a row on the state metrics with a positivity rate of 9% – measured as a 14-day average with a seven-day lag — and 592 cases per 100,000 residents – measured over the last 30 days.  

All counties, regardless of risk level, must maintain statewide baseline mitigation measures, which include:

  • Wearing face coverings
  • Limiting gathering sizes and capacity in businesses
  • Follow the criteria on gatherings and youth and adult sports 

Accompanying guidance for these directives and safety requirements can also be found HERE.  

Click HERE to see the meeting agenda. For a look at updated COVID-19 information for Washoe County, CLICK HERE.

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