RENO, Nevada — Health officials have confirmed the first northern Nevada case of a COVID-19 variant that originated in the United Kingdom, and they’re trying to determine if the infection linked to a large gathering in Washoe County may have spread to others.
At least eight cases related to the U.K. variant have already been confirmed in southern Nevada. The first was in the Las Vegas area in late January.
The new one confirmed in Washoe County — which includes Reno and Sparks — involves a woman in her 30s whose infection is linked to a gathering of more than 60 people from multiple states, county health district officer Kevin Dick announced late Friday.
Seventeen additional COVID-19 cases have been linked to the same event, although not all of the people who have tested positive are from Washoe County and it’s not yet known whether they are infected with the UK variant, Dick said.
Additional genomic sequencing is under way, but many specimens are not available for genomic sequencing, he said.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Biden boosts US vaccine stockpile as world waits
— IRS says new round of COVID relief payments on the way
— Most of California to reopen as vaccine eligibility expands
— COVID-19 deaths falling but Americans ‘must remain vigilant’
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ISLAMABAD — The provincial government in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, has announced the shutting of 15 famous shrines, including that of the Sufi saint famously known as Data Ganj Bakhsh in Lahore, amid the third wave of the coronavirus.
Federal authorities earlier announced the closing of educational institutions for two weeks in seven cities in Punjab and some in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Pakistan has reported 602,536 cases, including 13,476 deaths.
WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials are warning health professionals about the risk of false positive results with a widely used laboratory test for COVID-19 and flu.
The Food and Drug Administration issued the alert to Friday for health facilities using Roche’s cobas test for coronavirus and seasonal flu. The agency warned that problems with the test’s processing tubes could result in false diagnosis in people who are not actually infected.
Roche’s testing system is widely used to screen large batches of patient samples in hospitals and laboratories.
The FDA recommends health workers test samples multiple times to help assure accuracy. If the test delivers conflicting results it may indicate a problem and use should be discontinued, the agency says.
LAS VEGAS — Nevada’s top coronavirus official didn’t guarantee the state can meet President Joe Biden’s goal of offering a vaccination to every adult who wants a shot by May 1, but he said it gives everyone something to work toward.
COVID-19 Task Force chief Caleb Cage says everything depends on vaccine allocations. Seventeen new COVID-19 deaths were reported statewide Friday, bringing the pandemic total in Nevada to almost 5,100.
The number of cases statewide is nearing 300,000, while Nevada also passed the 575,000 mark in vaccines initiated.
State officials say almost 324,000 Nevadans, or more than 10% of the state population, are now fully vaccinated.
DES MOINES, Iowa — More than 1 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Iowa, even as residents who qualify struggle to make appointments for a shot.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said Friday that Iowa has administered 1.03 million doses.
The milestone reflects significant increases in vaccine supplies but it’s unclear how the state will handle surging demand as more adults become eligible in the coming months. Iowa has no centralized system for people to secure a vaccine appointment.
Gov. Kim Reynolds dismissed an early plan to pay Microsoft to set up a statewide registration and appointment scheduling program. Instead, the state set up a website that offers information about where to get vaccines but leaves scheduling to individuals.
President Joe Biden said Thursday evening that he expects the nation to have sufficient vaccine supply by May 1 so anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to schedule an appointment. Reynolds said Iowa could beat that deadline if vaccine supply increases and remains stable.
It’s unclear whether Iowa is prepared to handle such a volume of people when there already appears to be a bottleneck setting up appointments.
WASHINGTON — Former White House coronavirus co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx is joining the George W. Bush Institute as a senior fellow.
Birx, who was tapped by former Vice-President Mike Pence to manage the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, clashed with President Donald Trump and other officials who moved to set aside science and promote “reopening” the country. Birx, who initially was interested in a job in the Biden administration, faced criticism for not speaking out more forcefully against the former president’s guidance.
The former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Birx had previously overseen the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and led the government’s engagement with international partners on addressing other communicable diseases.
Birx will work on the institute’s public health work, as well as policy efforts to study “how to better position our country to tackle health disparities in the future based off the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
SAN FRANCISCO — California on Friday announced it has administered 2 million vaccine doses to people in vulnerable, low-income ZIP codes.
This will allow counties to more quickly reopen activities such as indoor dining and indoor gyms at reduced capacity.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that he would set aside 40% of vaccine for residents of some 400 ZIP codes the state deems most vulnerable. The point is to tie reopening standards to ensure that the people most impacted by the pandemic are protected against the virus.
By hitting the 2 million mark, the state will reassess counties and allow them to move to the red tier within 48 hours instead of waiting until Tuesday.
Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents, said the earliest it would allow museums, gyms, movie theatres and restaurants to open indoors at limited capacity is Monday.
The Associated Press