- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2020

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Health officials in Las Vegas said Monday they’ve increased the number of community disease investigators and have adopted an automated system using text and email messages to notify people who may have had contact with people who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

More than 60 investigators are now contact tracing more than 5,400 reported cases in and around Las Vegas, said Dr. Michael Johnson, community health chief at the Southern Nevada Health District.

Officials say quick identification of people exposed to the virus can help stop the spread of the contagious respiratory illness.

When close contacts are identified, health officials give people information about self-quarantining and an opportunity to enroll in the district’s confidential symptom monitoring mobile app. If someone reports signs or symptoms of illness, the district can arrange for testing.

State health officials have tallied more than 6,900 positive cases of COVID-19, and 350 deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

In other developments:

-Lawmakers on the Interim Finance Committee approved the transfer Monday of all $401 million stashed in the state’s rainy day fund to help fill holes in the budget created by coronavirus-related business closures. Republicans objected to transferring the entire fund now without details about how big the shortfall will be in the upcoming budget year, starting July 1, and some detail about what budget cuts the state would need to make. Democrats controlling the committee argued the entire fund will need to be transferred anyway. The deficits are projected for this budget year ending June 30 to be between $741 million and $911 million, and larger in the next budget year.

- Washoe County health officials say a spike in new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend is attributed to an outbreak at a Sparks nursing home. The county health district says the 54 new cases confirmed Sunday were the most reported there in a single day. It said nearly half were at the state-licensed Arbors Memory Care down the street from the Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks. Washoe County including Reno and Sparks has reported 1,256 cases and 47 deaths.

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