The month of June was something of a rollercoaster ride for northern Nevadans. At the start of the month, Nevada was entering its second phase of reopening after nearly three months of being largely shut down amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic. But as the month ended, new cases of coronavirus infections were spiking in most states across the country. Could this topsy-turvy pattern have played a role in a rash of Carson City vehicle accident injuries?
The COVID Comeback
Nevada was among the states taking the earliest and most aggressive actions to staunch the spread of the novel coronavirus, which is responsible for the strange and sometimes lethal disease known as COVID-19. In mid-March, Governor Steve Sisolak ordered all nonessential businesses closed, which included shuttering the state’s world-famous Las Vegas casinos.  Although the economic pain was tough medicine to swallow, Nevadans largely reaped the rewards of this strategy: daily new coronavirus infections remained in the low 100s through most of April, May, and early June, with occasional one-day spikes into the mid-200s. 
But as Nevada’s economy began reopening – at the same time dozens of other states across the country were doing the same – the state began seeing new coronavirus cases spiking. The first warning sign came on June 15, when the state had an all-time high of 379 new cases. That grim “record” was broken just days later, and the final week of June saw as many as ten times as many new daily cases as it had through most of the pandemic. On June 26 alone, the state recorded 1099 new infections. 
Just days removed from the start of this trend, we do not have adequate data to state definitively what is to blame for this sudden change of events and shift from Nevada’s outbreak being well-managed to increasingly out of control. Some possible factors behind Nevada’s spike in coronavirus cases include:
- Nevada’s Phase 2 reopening permitted strangers to gather indoors and unmasked in setting such as restaurants, bars, and casinos
- Reopening also allowed services like haircuts and nail painting to resume, bringing aestheticians into prolonged, close contact with a series of eager customers 
- Some may have believed the unsupported claim that warm weather would somehow prevent the coronavirus from spreading as it had earlier in the year
- Others are fatigued with pandemic protocols like remaining at home, wearing masks, and avoiding gatherings, and others reject mark-wearing on ideological grounds
- As other states have loosed restrictions and also seen growing contagion, travel from nearby states can exacerbate an endemic outbreak
Whatever the factors, the sudden rise in cases just as the state’s leaders were saying it was time to begin returning to live as we knew it before COVID-19 may have taken an emotional toll on Nevadans. That, in turn, might help explain a streak of Carson City car crashes in recent weeks.
A Rough Reopening
The first known motor vehicle accident setting off this unfortunate trend took place in central Carson City near the Lone Mountain Cemetery. A two-car crash occurred at the corner of N Stewart Street and E Long Street just after 5pm on Friday, June 12.  This resulted in at least one Carson City car crash accident, and one or both of the drivers may have been imagining a weekend of Phase 2 activities that caused them to lose concentration of their primary task: safely operating their vehicles.
The following week saw a three-car accident on Highway 50 at Northgate, which the at-fault driver blamed on faulty brakes.  Although the circumstances of the pandemic may provide the responsible driver with some cover, as a general matter, drivers have a duty to keep their vehicles in safe operating condition. If they fail to do so, they may be held liable for personal injuries from a car accident even if the immediate cause of the accident was a mechanical failure.
That same day, a van and a sedan collided at the intersection of College Parkway and Retail Drive. One person complained of chest pain, and paramedics were dispatched to the scene.  At the time of reporting it was unclear whether this was as a result of the collision itself – possibly from whiplash or other strain caused by the passenger’s seatbelt or the deployment of airbags – or as a secondary effect such as a heart attack brought on by the stress of the Carson City vehicle crash.
College Parkway was again the scene of a Carson City motor vehicle accident when a motorcyclist crashed into a fence near Otha Street. A Care Flight helicopter was dispatched to the scene but then called off when first responders determined that the motorcyclist had already perished.  The crash happened after 10:00pm on a Sunday; although it was not reported that alcohol was a factor, it would not be surprising if this fatal crash was the result of driving under the influence or – as can be equally dangerous – distracted driving.
A second motorcycle crash occurred later that same week, this time at mid-morning on Friday, June 26. This was reported as a Carson City motorcycle injury accident, although the extent of the injuries was not clear from the reporting. 
Days later, still another car crash took place, although this was thankfully resulted in no injuries and likely resulted in a net gain to society. A 19-year-old driver was arrested on a first-time charge of driving under the influence after police responded to a no-injury car accident report at a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 28. Although Carson City DUI crashes seldom have any positive outcomes to speak of, in this case there were no injuries and a problem driver was taken off the streets and will have an opportunity to learn about the dangers of drinking and driving without having ruined anyone’s life.
As Nevadans try to make sense of these unprecedented times of pandemic, it is clear that their attention is being diverted from safe driving. From Carson City to Clark County, Nevada drivers need to bring their wits with them every time they get behind the wheel.