Health District: CDC to investigate COVID-19 infection of Toronto man who visited Las Vegas

Governor praises negative tests in Washoe school, says more testing on the way

sisolak and friend
Gov. Steve Sisolak speaks to the press March 7. (Photo: Dana Gentry)

Clark County’s chief health official says it’s up to the Centers for Disease Control, not the Southern Nevada Health District, to reach out to Canadian officials about a Toronto man who tested positive for COVID-19 just days after leaving Las Vegas. 

“The CDC has to do it,” acting chief health officer Fermin Leguen told the Current on his way into a media briefing Saturday by Gov. Steve Sisolak on the emerging health crisis. “It’s a different country. We can’t do it.”  

The Ontario Ministry of Health announced Friday a Toronto man tested positive for COVID-19 just days after leaving Las Vegas

The man, who is in his 40s, according to Ontario officials, is in isolation at his home.

Sisolak met with reporters to update the public on the two presumptive positive cases in Nevada –a Las Vegas man hospitalized in serious condition and a Washoe County man who is self-isolated at his home — and said the CDC has identified 40 Nevada residents who disembarked the Grand Princess cruise ship on February 21. The presumptive positive patient in Washoe County was among them, Sisolak said.

“I’m proud to say that Nevada’s local health authorities responded immediately to contact and assess all passengers for signs of illness,” Sisolak said.  

A passenger on that sailing has died of the novel coronavirus. 

On Friday, Vice President Pence announced 21 of 46 people currently onboard the ship tested positive for the virus. All but two of the infected are crew members. Some 3,400 people are said to be on board.  

“And finally, the best news of the week,” Sisolak said. “Last night Washoe County Health District announced that all COVID-19 testing that was conducted Friday came back negative, including all students at Huffaker Elementary School who were tested. The negative result includes the family member of the resident who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.”

Sisolak did not say why Southern Nevada health officials, unlike their Washoe County counterparts, have not identified the school attended by a family member of the Las Vegas man who is in serious condition. 

“I know a lot of Nevadans have questions about why some people are getting tested and others are not,” Sisolak said.  

Sisolak said he spoke yesterday with Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, who confirmed commercial labs will begin testing soon in Nevada.  

The governor said he received a commitment from the CDC that additional testing capacity will be made available at Nevada’s two public labs.  

“I can tell you this.  The CDC is listening,” Sisolak said. 

“No one agency, elected official, office, hospital or lab can fix this alone,” Sisolak said.  “It takes all of us and that’s what you’re seeing here in Nevada.”  

“I’m your governor,” Sisolak said, choking up. “But I’m also a dad, husband and son.  Let us look out for each other and for our loved ones. I encourage all Nevadans to prepare, not panic and to continue to choose to collaborate over chaos.”

Dana Gentry
Senior Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, a grandson, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.