2020 Year in Review: Challenging times in rural Nevada – Elko Daily Free Press


Elko County Commission Chairman Demar Dahl holds up a sign in April that he said businesses could display to indicate they are ready to reopen under Nevada’s “Phase 2” guidelines. Dahl’s term ended in December.

Cynthia Delaney ELKO DAILY

ELKO – Rural Nevada is ready to say goodbye to 2020, a year that will be remembered for the deadly coronavirus as well as tragic losses from violent crimes.

Elko’s first cases of COVID-19 arrived in March just days after Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a statewide lockdown. By mid-December the county had seen more than 3,500 confirmed cases and 32 deaths related to the virus, many of them residents of a nursing home.

March also brought the beginning of a string of homicides that included a highway patrolman and four victims under the age of 25.

The year had started off bright enough, with citizens announcing their bids for political office and Komatsu Equipment Co. opening a massive $47 million facility on the west end of town. Then the first cases of COVID-19 began to be reported in Nevada.

Local officials declared the pandemic a state of emergency in mid-March but were reluctant to follow the governor’s guidance on business restrictions. The Elko City Council balked at the idea of having police enforce shutdowns.

Elko County’s first five coronavirus cases were confirmed during the latter half of March. Commissioner Delmo Andreozzi and Elko County Health Officer Dr. Bryce Putnam announced the launch of a COVID-19 hotline on Facebook Live.

The county’s first death was reported in early April, a West Wendover woman in her late 50s. It was Nevada’s first death outside Las Vegas and Reno.

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