31 new Washoe County cases of COVID-19 variant; new total 45

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Washoe County health officials said Thursday they've identified 31 new cases of the COVID-19 variant that originated in the United Kingdom since they first confirmed more than a dozen in the Reno-Sparks area about two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the overall positivity rate for the Reno-Sparks area inched back up above 5%.

The statewide positivity rate has remained below that level for six consecutive days—4.5% as of Wednesday. The rate also fell to 4.5% in the Las Vegas area earlier this week.

Washoe County has now confirmed a total of 45 cases of the variant originating in the United Kingdom, health officer Kevin Dick said Thursday.

The initial 14 confirmed on March 13 were tied to a celebration-of-life ceremony attended by 60-80 people, he said. Many of the new cases have been tied to a recent youth volleyball tournament in the Reno-Sparks area, he said.

Dick said he wasn't surprised that the variant was spreading and anticipated more cases would be confirmed.

"We're working with people identified as close contacts at those events," he said. "It is definitely circulating and transmitting here in Washoe County,.

Nevada's first case of the variant was confirmed in Las Vegas in January.

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