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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

COVID-19HealthNews and information

COVID-19 Update: Bad News and Good News

COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly again, both nationwide and right here in Nevada. As much as we hate being proven correct about our warnings, there are reasons why we try our best to warn you ahead of time about rising infections.

In better news, vaccinations are also rising at a rapid pace, and everyone aged 16 and up is now eligible to “get the jab” here in Nevada. Here’s the latest on the state of the pandemic, nationally and here at home.

Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: If you’ve been following along with us, you knew this was coming.

According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has surged to 0.99, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 99 new infections. Elko (0.68), Douglas (0.72), Nye (0.82), Lyon (0.87), Carson City (0.96), and Clark (0.98) Counties all have infection rates under 1.00, while White Pine County is at 1.00 on the dot, and Churchill (1.04), Washoe (1.12!), Humboldt (1.33!!!), Lincoln (1.63!!!!), and Lander (2.76!!!!!) Counties are all suffering more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 9.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Elko (0.8), Nye (2.1), Storey (3.5), Douglas (7.0), Lyon (8.9), Churchill (9.2), Clark (10.1), Washoe (11.2), Carson City (15.1), and Humboldt (15.3) Counties are all reporting under 20 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day.

According to the official Nevada Health Response dashboard and The Nevada Independent’s COVID-19 tracker, Nevada’s cumulative test positivity rate has slipped further to 20.4% (according to the Indy’s calculation of “new positives as a percent of new people tested each day”), and our seven-day average remains slightly above 10%. Still, these figures remain above the World Health Organization’s recommended 5% test positivity benchmark for safe reopening, and it’s worth noting that we’re averaging the lowest amount of tests being reported since May 2020.

Hospitalizations ticked up again earlier this week, but they seem to be coming down again today. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 257 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 59 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 316 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 5,308 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and this week we continue to average around eight COVID-19 deaths per day.

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of 11:30 AM today), 1,880,810 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 1,487,176 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 927,099 first doses have been administered thus far, meaning an estimated 30.1% of Nevadans have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 560,900 of these patients have been fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 18.2% of Nevadans are fully vaccinated.

“How much death, disease, and misery are we going to see between now and then? It’s in our power to minimize death, disease, and misery if we utilize best practices between now and June.” 
– Andy Slavitt, White House Senior COVID-19 Response Advisor
Joe Biden, White House, White House COVID-19 Response Team, COVID-19
Screenshot by Andrew Davey

In case the bad news isn’t already clear, here’s a blunt summary: Infections are indeed rising again as a growing number of Americans decide to forego best practices for preventing new infections. In case the good news isn’t very clear, here’s a simple summary: As more Americans become vaccinated, we’re seeing more evidence of hospitalizations and deaths staying well below last winter’s horrifying peaks despite the recent rebound in new infections. 

Now that larger numbers of the most at-risk groups are being vaccinated, there’s less risk of the horrifying hospital scenes and death counts that largely defined 2020. But as long as younger and previously healthier groups continue to spread COVID-19 amongst each other, we continue to risk not only a younger crowd of COVID-19 patients filling hospital beds, but also further growth in “Long COVID” patients who potentially face long-term health complications. During today’s White House COVID-19 Briefing, President Joe Biden’s lead public health advisors essentially admitted this simultaneously hopeful and frustrating dichotomy. 

As he pleaded with Americans to choose proven science over foolish shirtless pied pipers, White House Senior COVID-19 Response Advisor Andy Slavitt declared, “How much death, disease, and misery are we going to see between now and then? It’s in our power to minimize death, disease, and misery if we utilize best practices between now and June.” 

And as CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky continues to attract more attention following last week’s “impending doom” comments (which we sought to properly contextualize), she again warned, “The virus still has a hold on us, infecting more people.” And in response to questions on where we can find proper benchmarks for progress, Walensky reiterated, “In the context of vaccination, we still need our case counts lower. […] I think we’re way too high to say that we’ve won this race.”

“We have three perfectly good products. When we have delays with one product, we have two more products we can fall back on.” 
– Karissa Loper, Nevada Health Response, on vaccine distribution
Joe Biden, White House, White House COVID-19 Response Team, COVID-19
Screenshot by Andrew Davey

Now, let’s move over to the better news. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden bumped up the federal government’s target date for universal adult eligibility for vaccination to April 19. Nationally we’re now averaging about 3,000,000 doses administered per day, and America definitely remains on track to vaccinate all adults who choose to “take the jab” by early summer. Meanwhile the Biden administration continues to invest more American Rescue Plan dollars into expanding vaccine access through programs like community health centers and mobile vaccine units. Just this week the State of Nevada launched a partnership with FEMA and local health offices to deploy mobile vaccine units across the state, starting with the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, and moving onto Carson City and Pahrump later this week.

As Dr. Walensky summed up the Biden administration’s mission and goals, “What we want to do is scale up our vaccinations more and more so that we have more vaccine doses available and less disease spreading.” And despite Johnson & Johnson’s recent setbacks in delivering Janssen (J&J) vaccine doses, Nevada DHHS’ Karissa Loper reassured reporters during today’s Nevada Health Response call that the state should have enough Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine doses to keep going despite the “disappointing” J&J news: “We have three perfectly good products. When we have delays with one product, we have two more products we can fall back on.”

Steve Sisolak, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine
Photo provided by the Office of Governor Steve Sisolak

Getting back to the matter of testing, Southern Nevada is getting more thanks to the big testing site at Allegiant Stadium, and Nevada DHHS’ Julia Peek reiterated the importance of testing in containing COVID-19: “If you’ve been to an event and you feel at risk, get tested five days after the event.” She also made clear, “Vaccination, when available, is the gold standard for public health. When that’s not available, get tested. Both are extremely important.”

And in returning to the larger picture of vaccinations, Loper suggested, “It is going pretty well across the state. I think folks are excited. They’ve been able to make appointments.” Now that all Nevadans aged 16 and up are eligible, vaccine appointments may be available near you.

If you have further questions about COVID-19 and your health, check Immunize Nevada for more information on vaccine availability in your area, check Nevada Health Response for testing in your area, and check Nevada 211 for more health care resources. If you’re in need of additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square. And for goodness sake, please wear your masks and maintain social distancing from people outside your household.

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