Several Nevada counties still have high risk of coronavirus transmission

Medical bandages and gloves on a blue background.

Medical bandages and gloves on a blue background.

Six of Nevada’s 17 counties are still listed as having a high risk of virus transmission.

One of those on the list a week ago — Humboldt County — has dropped off the list and, therefore, can re-open bars and loosen some other restrictions. Humboldt’s problem was directly tied to a single large family gathering that spiked the county’s caseload.

But Humboldt was replaced by Churchill County, which has now shown an elevated risk of transmission for two weeks in a row. The COVID-19 task force headed by Caleb Cage issued a statement saying they are working with Churchill health officials to discuss reporting challenges raised by the county.

Nye County got a partial reprieve from the state a week ago. The county has seen an increase of 25 positive cases since Aug. 19 but 23 of them were in Pahrump. That enabled the task force to accept Nye’s proposal allowing bars, pubs and other drinking establishments outside of that city to reopen. But they agreed to give county officials the power to close those bars if cases increase.

In addition to Churchill, counties where bars, pubs, taverns, breweries, distilleries and wineries are closed are Elko, Washoe, Clark and Lander.

Elko’s cases are primarily in the populated areas: the city of Elko, Spring Creek, West Wendover and Carlin. Elko has reported 278 new cases since Aug. 1 and currently has 86 active cases. But Elko’s positive rate of tests has increased from 14.8 to 16.8 percent in the past week. State officials say current restrictions will continue at least another two weeks.

Washoe officials still have problems with their positivity rate which is 7.4 percent. The CDC guidelines say positivity should be at 7 percent or lower to consider reopening. County officials are blaming, in part, private social gatherings.

The state has committed to working with Washoe officials including reviewing the efforts of municipalities in the county to get things under control. It was reported a week ago that, while county inspections were on target with requirements, the same wasn’t true of Reno and Sparks.

Clark County has the state’s highest positivity rate at 13 percent but has recorded decreases for two weeks. Clark now has a partnership with the federal government to administer up to 60,000 tests over the coming two weeks at no cost to those being tested. Until that program is completed Sept. 18, the restrictions will remain.

Finally, tiny Lander County fails two of the three tests including the low testing numbers and small population. Lander suffered three new cases in the past week but is still unable to perform a significant number of tests. But Lander officials have approved a plan that includes community-based testing events starting Aug. 31. A task force spokesman said all counties must still maintain statewide mitigation measures including wearing masks in public, bans on large gatherings and capacity limits for businesses.


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