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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 informationThe Economy

COVID-19 Update: Fall Into Public Health

COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care, travel, San Clemente, Orange County, California

COVID-19 continues to spread. The pandemic continues to rage, despite some politicians’ and pundits’ rush to declare, “COVID-19 is over.” As summer ends, let’s assess how we’re doing and what else we must do to survive the fall.

Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Our statewide infection rate dropped back to 1.00 even. Outbreaks continue to subside statewide, but some rural areas still show alarmingly high case rates. Hospitalizations and new deaths are also trending lower, but remain well above our springtime lows. Vaccinations continue to tick higher, as over 49% of Nevadans are now fully vaccinated. 
Joe Biden, White House, White House COVID-19 Response Team, COVID-19
Screenshot by Andrew Davey

According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has dropped to 1.00, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to an even 100 new infections. Douglas (0.82), Nye (0.86), White Pine (0.88), Carson City (0.92), Mineral (0.93), and Clark (0.98) Counties have infection rates under 1.00, while Lyon (1.01), Washoe (1.01), Pershing (1.13), Humboldt (1.14), Elko (1.18), Churchill (1.19), and Lander (1.24!) Counties are all suffering more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 34.6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Esmeralda (16.4), Clark (23.0!), Nye (31.3!), Pershing (42.5!!), Douglas (45.9!!), Storey (52.0!!!), Carson City (54.9!!!), Washoe (59.1!!!), Mineral (76.4!!!!), Eureka (84.5!!!!), Lincoln (88.2!!!!), Elko (102.0????!!!!), Lyon (104.8????!!!!), Churchill (139.4????!!!!), Humboldt (145.1????!!!!), and Lander (178.2????!!!!)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 11.32%. According to the Mayo Clinic, our statewide seven-day test positivity average has slipped a bit to 12.43%. 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 91% of new cases in the last 30 days, at least 93% of new cases in the last 60 days, and about 74% of Nevada’s confirmed COVID-19 cases since February. 

This week, our COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending lower again. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 935 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 72 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 1,007 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 6,918 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and we’re averaging about 22 COVID-19 deaths per day.

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of yesterday), 3,941,690 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 3,336,896 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,847,140 patients have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning an estimated 60% of Nevadans (and more specifically, about 72.4% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 1,537,932 Nevada patients are now fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 49.9% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 60.8% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated. 

Some good news and bad news on the economic front
Las Vegas Strip, COVID-19
Photo by Andrew Davey

Just as we got some seemingly great news, we keep getting hit by the terrible news. Yesterday the Biden administration announced the end of America’s travel ban on 33 countries, so long as the travelers are fully vaccinated. Foreign nationals must be fully vaccinated beginning in November and test negative for COVID-19 within three days of departure. Unvaccinated Americans who return to the U.S. will have to test negative within a day of departure and within a day of arrival. So this means we’ll finally get more foreign tourists returning to Nevada soon?

Not so fast. After Sony and Canon pulled out of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Convention, the NAB cancelled their convention that was scheduled for October 9-13 at Las Vegas Convention Center. This comes on the heels of a growing list of convention cancellations in Vegas and across the nation due to ongoing concerns over America’s Delta Surge

2020 Election, economy, Las Vegas Strip
Photo by Andrew Davey

As we’ve been saying all along, actions have consequences. Our only path to a better economy lies with better public health. Just because we claim we’re “open for business” does not guarantee that everyone will want to come. If our COVID-19 outbreak remains this severe, we will continue to have trouble drawing more tourists and business travelers back.

So far, two of the other major Vegas conventions are promising to continue as planned: The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) next month, and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. Both have vaccine mandates in place for staff and attendees. It’s been pretty obvious for some time how we’re going to have to dig our way out of the mess. Will we finally dig out, or will we allow ourselves to fall deeper?

To boost, or not to boost?
COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care, Orange County, Santa Ana, California, travel
Photo by Andrew Davey

For months, we’ve witnessed constant back-and-forth over questions of who needs COVID-19 booster shots and when booster shots should begin. An FDA advisory panel officially weighed in  last Friday and only opted to recommend more immediate boosters for older and highly immunocompromised patients, but that doesn’t seem likely to settle the political debate. On that note, let’s check in on the scientific data.

So far, boosters are recommended for most people eight months after the second dose due to what we know so far about waning immunity. While we have more evidence showing that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines’ effectiveness begins to wane eight months after the second dose, we also have evidence showing that most patients get a strong immune response for at least eight months following the second dose, and that the most critical protection against life-threatening disease may last even longer.

Meanwhile, we have ample evidence showing that our primary problem lies with those Americans who continue to refuse to get vaccinated. As long as we still have a critical mass of holdouts, SARS-CoV-2 will still have more opportunities to spread and mutate. While this large amount of vaccine refusal may be necessitating boosters for more of the already vaccinated, we shouldn’t lose sight of the root cause… And the simplest solution.

And finally, some odds and ends
COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care
Photo by Andrew Davey

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 currently 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 unless new data show better numbers tonight.

In better news, Nevada’s vaccination rate continues to improve. According to CDC data, our seven-day moving average of daily vaccine doses administered has settled at 5,592. This marks a 9.91% increase from our July 10 record low at 5,088, but this also marks a 31.87% 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 was taken by me.

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