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Las Vegas man tests ‘presumtive positive’ for COVID-19

Updated March 5, 2020 - 4:37 pm

The Southern Nevada Health District on Thursday, announced the first presumptive positive case of the new coronavirus in a Clark County resident.

The patient, according to the Southern Nevada Health District, is a male in his 50s who is being hospitalized and currently under airborne isolation.

The unidentified man reported recent travel history to Washington state, where community spread of the virus is being reported, as well as Texas, which recently reported its first travel-associated case.

The Health District is working with its health care partners and leading the effort to quickly identify close contacts of the patient.

Test results are considered “presumptive positive” until the result is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, thought to have originated in Wuhan, China, has also been confirmed in other western states surrounding Nevada.

Nye response

As such, Nye County Emergency Management Director Scott Lewis, this week, gave an update on the latest known information, while providing precautions, and actions as a response to COVID-19.

Worldwide, there have been over 90,000 cases and over 3,000 deaths, he noted in an early March interview.

“The World Health Organization has raised its risk assessment of coronavirus to very high, as the number of cases continue to grow,” Lewis said. “The number of cases within the United States has grown with several reported deaths. A global pandemic has not yet been declared, but everyone should prepare for the probability. The virus is in every continent with the exception of Antarctica, and currently, there is no antagonist or inoculation available for this virus.”

Lewis also said the Centers for Disease Control remains the primary U.S. response agency for confirmation testing, but presumptive testing kits have been distributed to state governments.

“U.S. officials continue to stress that the risk to Americans remains low and more deaths occur from seasonal influenza,” he noted. “The virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days and may be community spread. Symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia.”

Lewis also said that individuals over the age of 50 are most prone to the virus, especially those with a compromised immune system.

“Most infections have been passed at the height of an individual’s host symptoms,” he said. “The highest risk is for those within six feet of an infected person with transmission through respiratory droplets. Nye County has been working closely with the state, the Nye County School District, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office, and Desert View Hospital on precautions and contingencies.”

Additionally, Lewis provided information on the best methods individuals and families should use to help avoid both catching and spreading the virus, be it at home, the workplace or schools.

He stressed stringent hand washing, and to avoid touching one’s face with unclean hands, as well as reduce or eliminate the act of hand shaking.

“Wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds,” he said. “It’s also making sure you have barrier distances. The recommendation is at least six feet between people. People should eliminate the unnecessary hugs and things like that on a social aspect, and making sure that you try to avoid mass gatherings as much as possible. If you’re not feeling well, stay home from work. If your children are feeling sick or maybe have signs and symptoms of influenza, try to keep them home from school. It’s the basics we experience with any type of influenza outbreak.”

Additionally, Lewis noted that at present, a global pandemic is probably on the threshold to be announced, but has not just yet.

“There is an immediate federal push to try to have inoculations or antagonists, but it would possibly take 12 to 18 months,” he said. “The Centers for Disease Control remains the primary organization for confirming cases of coronavirus, however testing kits have been distributed to individual states, and hospitals have access to them. Depending on the number of tests to be done, it takes anywhere from three to six hours for the testing process to be completed.”

Lewis also said that currently, local residents can’t just walk into a medical facility to get tested.

“You have to meet a certain set of the threshold or criteria in order to be tested,” he noted. “It’s much like a check-off list and each aspect of that check-off list needs to be completed before you become a candidate to be tested. There are only so many testing kits out there that are available, but we understand there’s more forthcoming. We are just taking precautions and making sure we are prepared. I think it’s much better to be in a preparedness state than a reactive state.”

Moreover, Lewis said local store shelves are clearing quickly of certain products used to protect individuals from becoming infected.

“It’s antiseptic products, water and things along those lines, so don’t be the last one to try to get some of those materials,” he said. “We fully anticipate distribution of weekly updates, unless the frequency dictates that we need to have them more often. Through our Public Information Officer, Arnold Knightly, this information has been posted on the Nye County website. We are providing press releases to all the media within the town, and we are available for any questions that the public may have. The last thing I want to mention is, if you are planning to travel, you may want to reconsider, know where you are going, and know the risks that are associated with travel.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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