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Washoe County Coroner: Funeral homes approaching 'full capacity' as COVID surges |

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Washoe County Coroner: Funeral homes approaching 'full capacity' as COVID surges

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) -- The number of people dying from COVID-19 across northern Nevada is quickly filling the region’s funeral homes, the Washoe County coroner said Wednesday.

“Locally and regionally, many of our funeral homes are approaching their full capacity,” Dr. Laura Knight said during the county’s weekly COVID response call with officials and experts. Washoe County includes Reno and is the state's second-largest by population.

Some funeral homes, which handle burial and cremation, are 90% full, Knight said.

Since the pandemic began in February, Nevada has reported nearly 2,100 COVID-related deaths. Thirty deaths were reported in Washoe in the past six days, Knight noted.

Nevada reported 3,159 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and a record-high 1,414 hospitalized patients, according to data released Wednesday. It’s the second consecutive day of record-breaking case numbers and hospitalizations in the state.

Washoe has the highest case rate in the state, with 4,753 cases per 100,000. While the statewide positivity rate is 16.5%, Washoe’s is 19.5% as of Wednesday.

Knight said her office can store about 200 bodies, and she did not expect a need for expanded storage. However, she said if cases continue to exponentially increase as they are now, that could change. She added her office purchased an additional refrigeration unit this spring to handle the anticipated influx.

“I could see a scenario where we double and double, and within a six-week period, we could be filling our capacity,” she said.

More people die in the winter compared to summer due to inflections, like Influenza, that flourish in colder weather, Knight said. This will add to the capacity issues.