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COVID-19 still a hot topic for County Commisioners
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COVID-19 still a hot topic for County Commisioners

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ELKO — In spite of seeing a greater number of recoveries from COVID-19 than new confirmed cases of the virus, both the city of Elko and Elko County continue to be labeled in the “red zone.”

County Manager Rob Stokes said during the regular Elko County Commissioners meeting Wednesday that he had just received the updated report from the White House coronavirus task force that also listed Clark County, Las Vegas, Henderson, Paradise, Washoe County and the city of Reno as falling in the “red zone” category.

“We are currently at 503 confirmed cases and of that 75 are active cases and with only one hospitalization, I believe, at this time,” Stokes said during the meeting.

Elko County Commission Chairman Demar Dahl said he believes it is important to point out that during the county’s recent COVID-19 spike, one individual went into the hospital because of coronavirus, and today there is also just one person hospitalized with COVID-19. Dahl said that while the number of Elko County residents hospitalized with COVID-19 has been as high as three, that was only for a short period of time.

Stokes said that while the trend appears to be a good sign for Elko County as it works to combat the virus and its impacts on the local economy, we are still seeing more confirmed cases.

“I think this last increase was 12. We did have a couple low days a few days before that but it is not unusual to see 15 or more on a daily basis with regard to confirming cases.” Stokes said.

County Commissioner Delmo Andreozzi said if you look at all the statistics and try to determine what is actually going on, “you essentially have what I would say is a matrix that sets arbitrary numbers and the matrix may or may not be relevant to Elko County.”

Andreozzi said the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases is skewed because the only people being tested are those that are most likely to have contracted the virus.

“There are three categories of people getting tested right now: people who are going to go to the hospital for a procedure, they get tested; then you have people who are sick or they have symptoms, they are getting tested; and people that come in close contact with known and confirmed cases,” he said.

“My first reaction is we need to do community-wide testing so we can drive down that percentage, and Dr. Putnam will tell you that is actually the opposite (of what we need to do). We are going to take what little resources we have and chase people who aren’t necessarily sick,” Andreozzi added.

Amanda Osborne of the COVID-19 response team said the fact that the county saw more recoveries than new cases in July is a good indication, and gives the county some data points to discuss with the Governor’s Office regarding the metrics Elko County is being graded on.

Commissioners also voted to approve revised guidelines for a COVID-19 re-opening plan that was requested by the governor in a July 1 letter. Commissioners voted to eliminate portions of the proposed plan presented during a July 15 meeting that called for the county to establish a phone line for residents to report non-compliance with the governor’s directives.

Commissioners Rex Steninger and Cliff Eklund both described the proposal as putting neighbors in the position of “snitching” on each other.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the revised plan.

Commissioners also voted to conditionally approve the second fiscal request to the Nevada Governor’s Office to receive the remaining portion of CARES Act funding designated for Elko County and its communities.

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