Health District honors staff, community partners and volunteers in COVID-19 response

Reno, NV, USA, March 6, 2021

Health District honors staff, community partners and volunteers in COVID-19 response

The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) is acknowledging its staff, community partners and volunteers who have worked the COVID-19 response the past year, as the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Washoe County one year ago today.

The first COVID-19 case, which was initially a presumptive positive before becoming confirmed later on, was reported on the evening of March 5, 2020. The resident was a male in his 50s.

Shortly after, the Health District initiated drive-through testing and from there embarked on a 365-day COVID-19 response that has turned to vaccine administration that is still ongoing.

Here is a list of accomplishments made by the staff of the Health District, community partners, the Nevada National Guard and volunteers.

  • The Washoe County Health District increased the size of its staff and volunteers from 202 to 390 in one year, an increase of 93 percent.
    • From March 1, 2020 through Feb. 28, 2021, the Health District staff worked over 9,800 hours of overtime to complete normal duties and COVID-19 response duties.
  • About 24 hours after the first case, a call center was mobilized with staffing from Washoe County Health District. As the pandemic evolved, unused rooms at the Washoe County Administrative Complex were transformed into a call center and 35 people were hired.
    • Since September 29, the Regional COVID-19 Call Center has received more than 52,000 incoming COVID-19-related phone calls. Over 19,500 of those calls have come in since January 11, just as the vaccine information was starting to be released. 
  • The COVID-19 Disease Investigation staff made thousands of phone calls in addition to the COVID-19 Call Center.
    • More than 25,000 investigations were completed. Staff worked about 12 hours per day, seven days per week.
    • Disease investigator staffing levels rose from about three pre-pandemic to as many as 85 throughout the course of the year.
  • The Health District’s Community and Clinical Health Services staff conducted over 69,000 COVID-19 tests, starting March 6, 2020. The team has been responsible for more than 50,000 COVID-19 vaccines administered, in addition to massive amounts of data entry, paperwork and other duties as assigned.
  • Staff from Environmental Health Services (EHS) were pulled for COVID-19 response early on in the pandemic and were critical to COVID-19 testing at both at the Livestock Events Center, and in the community. Staff shifted work to handle large hotel inspections, per Senate Bill 4 from the Nevada Legislature special session. EHS staff completed 16 inspections on large hotels – with some inspections taking as long 35 hours to complete – to ensure large hotels were COVID-19 compliant for guest safety.
  • Air Quality Management Division (AQMD) and EHS staff helped rescue Princess Cruise Line passengers that were on a ship where a COVID-19 outbreak occurred and safely returned them to their homes. AQM managed the planning branch of the COVID-19 response, and supported COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, scheduling, call center and other inventory and logistics during the early phases of the response.
  • The Health District Medical Reserve Program managed 511 volunteers for COVID-19 response, which include medical and non-medical personnel, vaccinators, evaluators, recovery lot staff and traffic control. This includes the State of Nevada Board of Pharmacy, UNR School of Community Health Sciences, Immunize Nevada, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) as well as federal agencies.

The Health District would like to extend a special thank you to the Nevada National Guard, all community partners and volunteers who helped out during the COVID-19 response.

The Washoe County Health District is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.