Reno, Sparks, Nev. April 22, 2022. Recent wastewater samples collected by the University of Nevada, Reno reported that more than 99% of the COVID-19 variants detected were the Omicron BA.2 subvariant.

BA.2 is the dominant COVID-19 variant in Washoe County and in the State of Nevada and is very contagious. In Washoe County, there have been 28 BA.2 cases sequenced.

While BA.2 cases are increasing, the overall number of new COVID-19 cases reported remains flat at about 16 cases per day over the last seven days, according to the Washoe County COVID-19 Dashboard. More importantly, COVID-19 hospitalizations have decreased in Washoe County and are at record lows statewide, according to the Nevada Hospital Association.

“It’s not a surprise to see an uptick in COVID-19 BA.2 cases in Washoe County,” said Kevin Dick, District Health Officer in Washoe County. “It was only a matter of time before it hit in Washoe County. What we’re seeing, however, is that while the proportion of cases that are BA.2 have risen, our hospitalizations and deaths remain low, which is good. We believe deaths and hospitalizations are decreasing thanks to more and more people getting the COVID-19 vaccine and booster as well as the increased availability of COVID-19 treatments.”

Wastewater samples were collected at the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility in Sparks, which treats the majority of wastewater of the Truckee Meadows.

“Based on the genome copies in the wastewater, it does not seem that there are high levels of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the community,” said Subhash Verma, associate professor in the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. “BA.2 does not seem to have any selective advantage, and there isn’t an uptick in the viral genome copies, which may suggest that there may not be much increase in the cases with this variant.”

The wastewater monitoring program is operated through the Nevada Water Innovation Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Institute includes regional agency partners the City of Sparks, the City of Reno and Washoe County. The wastewater monitoring program began in April 2020 and is continuing with support from the City of Sparks through the use of American Rescue Plan Act funds.

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are available

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters remain the best form of protection from contracting COVID-19. Vaccines and boosters can be scheduled at local grocery stores and pharmacies by going to www.vaccines.gov, or you can find a local COVID-19 vaccination event here.

Residents can also visit the Washoe County Health District Clinic at 1001 E. 9th St., Building B, Reno, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., every weekday, Monday-Friday. Call 775-328-2427 for an appointment; that number can also be called to schedule a homebound COVID-19 vaccine appointment where a nurse comes to you.

For COVID-19 booster eligibility, go here.

The COVID-19 Regional Information Center is working together to deliver COVID-19 community updates in a unified manner. While press releases are only sent periodically for significant events, you can always get daily results on our website, https://covid19washoe.com/, our COVID-19 Dashboard or by following us on Twitter @COVID19Washoe. The entities include: City of Reno, City of Sparks, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Regional Transportation Commission, REMSA Health, Reno Sparks Indian Colony, Reno Police Department, Reno Fire Department, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, University of Nevada, Reno, Washoe County, Washoe County Health District, Washoe County School District and Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Also in the group are Community Health Alliance and the area hospitals, Northern Nevada Medical Center, Renown Health and Saint Mary’s.