Last Friday, Governor Steve Sisolak’s (D) office confirmed that Sisolak tested positive for COVID-19. Immediately, we got all kinds of “hot takes” on how Nevadans might interpret Sisolak’s diagnosis and how they may view his actions on COVID-19 going forward.
But really, can’t we just stick with Occam’s Razor here? Yes, really – this is yet another sign of just how far and how rapidly COVID-19 has spread.
How did Sisolak catch COVID-19? Just look around.
Renown is reopening its emergency care facility located in its parking garage in downtown Reno. The site was opened early in the pandemic but never used. Health exports say it’s needed now to increase hospital bed capacity as the region sees a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations. pic.twitter.com/svBpaCHlcs
— Lucia Starbuck (@luciastarbuck) November 11, 2020
There are reasons why we continue to do these COVID-19 updates. They tend to be the same reasons why we continue to do “This Week in Corona Scams”, and why we launched our “Hindsight 2020” election recap with a closer look at the disinformation that threatens our democracy. With the “Info-demic” still raging across our social media feeds, we’re in dire need of a reality check.
Last week, KUNR reporter Lucia Starbuck’s report from Renown Medical Center’s reopened COVID-19 emergency care facility in the Reno hospital’s parking garage stopped me dead in my tracks. Then over the weekend, I noticed additional reports from across the country, such as this South Dakota emergency room nurse’s viral tweet thread and this Washington Post report on various Republican politicians gloating about the success of their anti-mask/anti-shutdown campaign strategy. There’s an alarmingly wide disconnect between the rhetoric we see in far too many corners of the internet (and increasingly, our political sphere) and the reality facing frontline medical professionals here in Nevada and throughout the nation.
"Steve Bannon had a TV [show] on Facebook in which he was advocating beheading Dr. Fauci and the Head of the FBI Christopher Wray. You would think that would be enough to get you banned from Facebook." #BanBannon
— The Real Facebook Oversight Board (@FBoversight) November 16, 2020
As much as some of Governor Steve Sisolak’s political adversaries want to gloat over his COVID-19 diagnosis, what this really shows is just how widespread COVID-19 actually is. Just last week, Sisolak was doing events in Reno as the Truckee Meadows’ COVID-19 outbreak was escalating.
From the White House to Nevada’s prison houses, COVID-19 is spreading very far very fast, just as numerous epidemiological experts had warned when authorities here in Nevada (Sisolak included) and elsewhere gave into pressure from the Trump administration and certain segments of the “business community” to “LIBERATE!” Just as we feared, the only thing they truly liberated was the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus itself.
“When groups gather, that’s how viruses spread. Please stay home, and stay with your immediate household.”
– Caleb Cage, Nevada Health Response
When asked about Sisolak’s condition during today’s Nevada Health Response press call, Communications Director Meghin Delaney replied, “The Governor is being monitored by local health authorities, and he’s being attended to by a local physician.” She then directed reporters to a press release they posted just before the call where Sisolak stated he’s only experiencing “mild head congestion”.
In response to questions on whether this ongoing surge will result in stricter statewide health safety rules, Nevada COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage said, “We are currently exploring all mitigation options available to stop this concerning level of spread.”
Cage also noted that Carson City and Clark, Douglas, Elko, Humboldt, Lincoln, Lyon, Nye, and Washoe Counties are all slated to present their mitigation plans to the state’s COVID-19 task force this Thursday, and he asked them all to step up in order to pre-empt a state crackdown: “My plea to local governments is: Please come to the table this Thursday, and please be ready to talk about what you’ll do [to bring down our COVID-19 stats].”
With the Thanksgiving holiday rapidly approaching, Cage asked Nevadans to take this threat seriously and show some holiday season spirit by sparing their loved ones the pain and suffering of COVID-19. Or as Cage put it, “When groups gather, that’s how viruses spread. Please stay home, and stay with your immediate household.” He then added, “Help us reduce the spread of the virus. Reduce the effect this virus is having on our hospital. Reduce the effect this virus is having on our economy.”
It’s Monday. Here’s your weekly COVID-19 check-up.
Just since last Tuesday, Nevada’s COVID-19 stats have worsened even further. According to Covid Act Now, our statewide infection rate has surged even higher to 1.20, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 120 new infections. While Douglas (0.80) and Lyon (0.85) Counties’ and Carson City’s (0.87) respective infection rates remain low, Elko (1.11), Nye (1.17), Clark (1.18), White Pine (1.21), Washoe (1.26), Churchill (1.26), and Lincoln (1.62) Counties continue to suffer rapid spread. Statewide case growth now stands at an average daily rate of 1.4%, and only Douglas and Storey Counties now report fewer than ten new cases per 100,000 daily.
According to the Nevada Health Response dashboard and The Nevada Independent’s COVID-19 tracker, Nevada’s cumulative test positivity rate has inched higher to 13.8% (according to the Indy’s calculation), and the seven-day test positivity average has topped 30% and hit a new all-time record high.
According to the Nevada Hospital Association, Nevada’s hospitals are treating a total of 1,157 (confirmed and suspected combined) COVID-19 patients, which amounts to 22% of total patients. Overall hospital capacity now stands at 77% of staffed beds, and adult ICU occupancy now stands at 64%. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 1,914 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as the seven-day average death count continues to creep up from our September and October lows.
If you have further questions about COVID-19 and your health, check with Nevada Health Response on testing in your area, and check with Nevada 211 for more health care resources. If you’re in need of additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square. And for goodness sake, please wear your masks and maintain social distancing from people outside your household.