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

In the meantime, the positivity rate for the Reno Sparks area rose again to over 5%.

The nationwide positivity rate stayed below that level for six consecutive days – 4.5% as of Wednesday. Earlier this week, the rate in the Las Vegas area also fell to 4.5%.

Washoe County has now confirmed a total of 45 cases of the UK-derived variant, health officer Kevin Dick said Thursday.

The first 14, confirmed on March 13, were tied to a celebration of life that was attended by 60-80 people, he said. Many of the new cases are linked to a recent youth volleyball tournament in the Reno-Sparks area, he said.

Dick said he wasn’t surprised the variant spread and expected more cases to be confirmed.

“We work with people who have been identified as close contacts at these events,” he said. “It definitely circulates and broadcasts here in Washoe County.

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

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