COVID-19 continues to spread, and America continues to try to find our way out of this pandemic. Now, some Americans are looking to COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for some kind of hope. Here’s what you need to know about booster shots, about our lagging vaccination rate, and our overall COVID-19 outlook.
Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Our infection rates are dropping throughout the state, but caseloads remain high throughout the state – especially in Rural Nevada. Hospitalizations and new deaths are also trending lower, and over half of Nevadans are now fully vaccinated.
According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has dropped some more to 0.91, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to 91 new infections. Mineral (0.60), White Pine (0.70), Douglas (0.74), Lander (0.76), Lincoln (0.79), Carson City (0.81), Pershing (0.87), Churchill (0.88), Clark (0.90), Washoe (0.92), Nye (0.95), and Humboldt (0.99) Counties have infection rates under 1.00, while only Elko County (1.08) suffers more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 28.6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Lincoln (13.8), Pershing (17.0), Clark (19.5), Nye (30.1!), Esmeralda (32.7!), Douglas (33.4!), Carson City (39.6!), Storey (41.6!!), Washoe (45.9!!), Lyon (59.6!!!), Lander (67.1!!!), White Pine (86.5!!!!), Churchill (91.2!!!!), Elko (131.5????!!!!), Eureka (154.9????!!!!), and Humboldt (156.2????!!!!) Counties are all reporting over 10 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day.
According to the official Nevada Health Response dashboard and The Nevada Independent’s COVID-19 data tracker, Nevada’s 14-day test positivity average based on “new positives as a percentage of new test encounters” ticked lower to 10.48%. According to the Mayo Clinic, our statewide seven-day test positivity average has slipped a bit to 11.85%. According to the Scripps Institute’s Outbreak.info, the Delta variant (B.1617.2) remains dominant: Delta and its sub lineages account for at least 92% of new cases in the last 30 days, at least 93% of new cases in the last 60 days, and about 75% of Nevada’s confirmed COVID-19 cases since February.
🚨 Para conocer todas las clínicas de vacunación COVID-19 que están sucediendo HOY, visite https://t.co/innWTKxVQA. Todos los mayores de 12 años | Gratuita para todos, independientemente del estatus migratorio. 🚨 pic.twitter.com/0rcQeqcVFz
— Immunize Nevada (@ImmunizeNV) September 28, 2021
This week, our COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to trend lower. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 834 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 63 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 897 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 7,073 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and we’re averaging about 23 COVID-19 deaths per day.
According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of yesterday), 3,977,580 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 3,378,653 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,864,808 patients have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning an estimated 60.5% of Nevadans (and more specifically, about 73% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 1,557,592 Nevada patients are now fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 50.6% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 61.5% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated.
Next, it’s booster time.
In case you haven’t yet noticed, Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are now available. Before we go any further, let’s clear up some misconceptions about the Pfizer booster shots. They’re recommended for patients aged 65+, select immunocompromised patients, and workers who have to work in high-risk environments. They’re not currently mandatory, and they’re not necessary in order to obtain or maintain the full vaccination status that some government entities and private businesses are now requiring through their respective vaccine mandate/vaccine passport programs.
During today’s White House COVID-19 Briefing, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients proclaimed, “We were ready to get booster shots into arms Friday, immediately after the FDA and the CDC released their new recommendations. We have propelled into a strong start.” As of this morning over 400,000 Americans have already received booster shots, and over one million have scheduled appointments.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky acknowledged that concerns over the more dangerous potency of the Delta variant pushed the Biden administration to develop and launch this booster shot rollout campaign. And in addressing why she ultimately opted to override the advisory board’s initial decision not to include any essential workers in their list of booster-eligible Americans, Dr. Walensky stated, “Their well-being is essential to keeping hospitals staffed, schools open, and the rest of our essential work fully functioning.”
As the Biden administration continues to contend with a more vocal anti-vaccine movement who have already begun to fear-monger over booster shots like they already have for first and second doses, Dr. Walensky aimed to reassure Americans of the booster shots’ safety. And as the rollout continues, Walensky promised that federal health regulators will continue to monitor for any potential problems: “We will continue to evaluate data as they become available in real time.” For everyone here who’s seeking COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, check Immunize Nevada for an updated list of local vaccination clinics.
“We’ve made important progress in increasing vaccination rates and increasing vaccination equity. These numbers tell the story of the progress that we have made.”
– Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Senior White House COVID-19 Response Advisor
But even as the Biden administration took an early victory lap on booster shot rollout, we’re still looking at 45.4% of Americans (including 33.4% of American adults) who are not fully vaccinated. According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) national poll, a solid 72% of Americans self-report receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Yet while the overall numbers show some overall progress, vaccine refusal remains high for the uninsured under age 65, Republican voters, rural residents, workers without college degrees, and self-identified white evangelical Christians.
Yet for the ongoing concerns over vaccine hesitancy within communities of color, the Kaiser Family Foundation poll and the most recent CDC health equity data actually show the vaccine racial gaps closing. According to KFF, the share of Latinx (73%) and Black (70%) adults who have at least initiated the vaccination process now hew close to the share of white (71%) adults who have received at least one dose.
According to White House Senior COVID-19 Response Advisor Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, “We’ve made important progress in increasing vaccination rates and increasing vaccination equity. These numbers tell the story of the progress that we have made.” And in a bit of a pre-buttal to concerns that the White House’s vaccination strategy may soon prioritize booster shots over boosting the overall vaccination rate, Dr. Nunez-Smith stressed, “Our primary focus remains connecting unvaccinated people to the vaccines. […] This is a national public education campaign.”
Yet when asked about the growing partisan polarized vaccination gap, Dr. Nunez-Smith demurred: “We think everybody is worth that investment. The message matters, and the messenger matters.” Later on, Zients chimed in and stressed that the Biden administration will continue to fund and support local vaccine outreach programs.
“After Delta became the most common variant, those who were fully vaccinated became five times less at risk for infection and ten times less at risk for hospitalization and death. The bottom line: Get vaccinated.”
– NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci
Throughout our “This Week in Corona Scams” series, we’ve been showing how and why the Influencer Infodemic is at the center of America’s ongoing struggle to overcome this pandemic. Even now, public health authorities across the country continue to struggle to respond to celebrities like Joe Rogan and Nicki Minaj who amplify anti-vaccine propaganda. During today’s White House briefing, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci tried to cut through Rogan’s and Minaj’s noise by sharing his own family’s story of surviving the last pandemic to hit the world in 1918.
More specifically Dr. Fauci noted how his father lived through that pandemic as a child, and how his father would later express his frustration over how the world had to largely suffer through it with limited remedies. Or as Dr. Fauci put it, “They were very frustrated because […] they did not have pharmacological intervention tools. They did not have vaccines.” He continued, “There’s one thing that sticks out so boldly. […] We now have a very effective and safe vaccine.”
In a bit of a clapback to Rogan and the other anti-vaccine “influencers” who have continually attacked Fauci’s credibility for the past 18 months, Dr. Fauci stated, “They have the same problem with quack and unproven remedies that we do today. They did not, however, have safe and effective vaccines.” He later added, “After Delta became the most common variant, those who were fully vaccinated became five times less at risk for infection and ten times less at risk for hospitalization and death. The bottom line: Get vaccinated.”
And finally, some odds and ends
Nevada’s larger mask rule for publicly accessible indoor spaces continues to be updated weekly based on two weeks’ worth of CDC COVID-19 transmission data. Since the CDC still shows all 17 Nevada counties with high community transmission (which is the most severe level), all 17 Nevada counties will likely continue to operate under the mask mandate.
In more not-so-great news, Nevada’s vaccination rate is slumping again. According to CDC data, our seven-day moving average of daily vaccine doses administered has settled at 5,099. This marks a mere 0.21% increase from our July 10 record low at 5,088, and this marks a 37.88% drop from our August 23 summertime high of 8,208. This tracks with the overall nationwide rebound in vaccinations… Followed by another slump.
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 maintain best practices to help stop the spread.
The cover photo is a screenshot taken by me.