New COVID-19 case counts continue to climb in Washoe County

Aug. 20, 2021. Reno/Sparks, NV – COVID-19 disease investigators are concerned by the rise in new COVID-19 cases in Washoe County and the Washoe County Health District is reminding our community to do their part in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Since June 1, 2021, new COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations have seen a sharp increase:

  • The 7-day moving average for new COVID-19 cases per day went from 13.7 to 211.1
  • The COVID-19 test positivity rate increased from 2.9% to 19.5%
  • The number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations increased from 20 to 142
  • The occupancy rate of Staffed hospital beds is at 91% in Washoe County

There are 270 additional COVID-19 cases today on top of the 308 reported on Thursday. The 7-day moving average is as high as it’s been since Jan. 13, 2021, and the positive case numbers represent a market increase in infection in our community.

Washoe County Health District disease investigators can no longer reach out to every new COVID-19 positive case in Washoe County and have prioritized outreach to youth, aged 5-12, because this age group will exhibit higher transmission levels and be in a more vulnerable situation. Other groups in that priority order are those aged 13-17 and 0-4, then households with multiple cases. Persons who work in school settings, including transportation, are also being prioritized to keep our schools open for in-person learning.

“Our disease investigators are simply overwhelmed,” said Kevin Dick, District Health Officer in Washoe County. “We have a dedicated staff working 7 days a week who are reaching a breaking point under very difficult circumstances to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing is not designed to be effective when COVID-19 is widespread in the community and with this many new cases coming in. We need to the public to both help limit the spread of COVID-19 and also get vaccinated as that is the easiest and most effective thing you can do at this point to keep those around you safe.”

The Health District, per the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), is recommending the following steps for residents who test positive for COVID-19:

  • Reach out to close contacts who were within 6 feet of you for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period when you were infectious
    • Per the CDC, an infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms (or tests positive if non symptomatic). By letting your close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, you are helping to protect everyone.
  • Stay home except to get medical care
  • Rest, stay hydrated and monitor symptoms
  • Separate yourself from those in your household
  • More tips from the CDC can be found here:

If you were exposed to someone under these circumstances, it’s advised that you get a COVID-19 test at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center or elsewhere in the community. Home COVD-19 tests are not as reliable; Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests are recommended.

If you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you do not need to quarantine UNLESS you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell/taste, or other symptoms similar to seasonal allergies. Read more CDC guidance related to quarantine here.

Vaccines remain the best way to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and are highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death due to the virus. Schedule an appointment or walk in to local pharmacies and grocery stores, or the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:30-11:30 a.m. You sign up for an appointment here.

The COVID-19 Regional Information Center is working together to deliver COVID-19 community updates in a unified manner. While press releases are only sent periodically for significant events, you can always get daily results on our website,, our COVID-19 Dashboard or by following us on Twitter @COVID19Washoe. The entities include: City of Reno, City of Sparks, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Regional Transportation Commission, REMSA, Reno Sparks Indian Colony, Reno Police Department, Reno Fire Department, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, University of Nevada, Reno, Washoe County, Washoe County Health District, Washoe County School District and Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Also in the group are the area hospitals, Northern Nevada Medical Center, Renown Health and Saint Mary’s.