SNHD focusing on community COVID-19 testing, contact tracing

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Southern Nevada Health District is noticing a plateau in COVID-19 case numbers, a likely result of social distancing efforts.

8 News Now spoke with the Health District about the state of testing and plans to help reopen Nevada.

SNHD can currently conduct up to 300 coronavirus tests a day, but health leaders want to expand that capability and increase contact tracing efforts.

“We currently have 54 trained disease investigators that are doing contact tracing, and we’ve requested a doubling of our staff,” said Dr. Michael Johnson, SNHD community health division director.

The additional staff would help with community testing. The Health District wants to target areas at higher risk, based on zip code data. This includes focusing on minority groups and people 65 or older.

Along with testing, the district is putting together guidelines and strategies for industries to reopen.

Despite hospital capacity appearing stable and some plateau in data, the district is advocating for a gradual reopening.

“So that we don’t have a large rebound in the number of COVID cases by lifting the stay-at-home orders or social distancing or any of the interventions that are really working by lifting those too soon,” explained Johnson.

Doctors also worry about COVID-19 cases increasing in the fall if the governor’s office eases guidelines too soon. They’re concerned about the community impact if there’s an increase in cases and a bad flu season.

The Health District continues working closely with the governor’s office regarding the situation.

A big focus remains on testing the community and coordinating with private partners like UMC. The hospital has a goal of collecting 10,000 tests a day by June 1.

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