CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The health officer in Washoe County, Nevada, urged residents to boycott businesses that don’t require employees to wear masks.
The call came Wednesday as the county reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day and highest rolling seven-day average of new cases in more than two months.
“If you see people that are not wearing masks and it’s a potential for disease spread, make the right decision for yourself and get out of there. There is no reason to put yourself at risk,” Washoe County Health Officer Kevin Dick said.
“I think that can send a message to businesses that allow employees not to wear masks or are not actively encouraging customers to wear masks, that you don’t feel safe at that location," he told reporters.
Gov. Steve Sisolak planned to address the recent spike in cases statewide during a news conference later in the day in Carson City.
On Tuesday, Nevada reported its biggest one-day increase of coronavirus cases at 462, the fourth time in eight days the state hit a new daily high. Health officials reported 355 new cases on Wednesday.
More than 14,300 cases and 494 deaths have been reported statewide during the pandemic.
In Washoe County, the new daily high of 90 cases reported Wednesday pushed the county’s seven-day rolling average to 50 — eclipsing the previous peak average of 32 on April 14, Dick said.
The county’s 748 active cases tops the previous high of 698 on June 20 and the 73 people currently hospitalized ties the previous high mark.
“The good news is we still have good (hospital) capacity,” Dick said, noting 77% of acute care beds and 51% of ICU beds are occupied and only 18% of ventilators are in use.
“The bad news is we are seeing an alarming rise in new cases,” he said. “This raises the concern that we could be seeing another surge.”
Dick said the spike is not due to increased testing or a backlog of test samples.
“It’s very important the public take this seriously. We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. It is not something that is going to be over soon and it not going to be easy to address,” he said.
Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. Sonner reported from Reno.