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Supplies Are Limited, But Testing Going Well In Washoe County

Authorities in Nevada say it’s been hard to get enough supplies to confront COVID-19. But officials in Washoe County say testing for the disease is going well.

On a recent afternoon at the Washoe County Health District, a car pulls up to a group of three nurses dressed in Tyvek suits that make them look like astronauts. 

The health district staff are demonstrating how they do drive-through testing for COVID-19. Lisa Lottritz is Division Director for Community and Clinical Health Services. She says their capacity has almost doubled since they started collecting samples in early March.

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“I think the first day we were at 150 and on Saturday we did 280. And I believe today we’re gonna be at 213. So right between 150 and hopefully we’ll get to 300."

Lottritz says the health district has plenty of staff to run the site  -- at least for now. But they’re also training volunteers to administer the tests, including retired medical professionals and school nurses who can’t do their normal jobs since campuses are closed.

“Hopefully, we’re gonna continue to build that testing capacity, just in case someone did get sick," she said.

In the meantime, she says, the staff have to be ready for anything -- including the times when a nasal swab makes someone want to throw up.

“You can stimulate a gag reflex. And plus people are just nervous being out here. So we monitor them and just make sure they’re doing okay before they leave our testing site."

Bert is a reporter and producer based in Reno, where he covers the state legislature and stories that resonate across Nevada. He began his career in journalism after studying abroad during the summer of 2011 in Egypt, during the Arab Spring. Before he joined Nevada Public Radio and Capital Public Radio, Bert was a contributor at KQED and the Sacramento News & Review. He was also a photographer, video editor and digital producer at the East Bay Express.