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 the larger collection of vaccine data, and our overall COVID-19 outlook.
Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Nevada’s overall outlook appears to be gradually improving. Hospitalizations and new deaths continue to trend lower. Washoe County has experienced an uptick in infections, but Clark County and most rural areas continue to taper off. And finally, over 52% of Nevadans are now fully vaccinated.
According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate remains at 0.95, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to 95 new infections. White Pine (0.70), Lander (0.75), Douglas (0.80), Carson City (0.82), Mineral (0.84), Lyon (0.86), Elko (0.90), Nye (0.91), Churchill (0.93), and Clark (0.95) Counties all have infection rates under 1.00, while Washoe County is at 1.00 exactly, and Humboldt (1.07), Pershing (1.10), and Lincoln (1.51!!) Counties suffer more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 22.0 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Clark (17.4), Douglas (18.4), Mineral (19.0), Washoe (27.0!), Lyon (27.3!), Lander (28.4!), Carson City (29.1!), Nye (30.4!), Pershing (31.9!), Churchill (64.2!!!), White Pine (71.6!!!), Elko (75.8!!!), Eureka (98.6!!!!), Lincoln (121.3????!!!!), and Humboldt (157.9????!!!!) 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 6.90%. According to the Mayo Clinic, our statewide seven-day test positivity average has ticked lower to 8.50%. 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 95% of new cases in the last 30 days, at least 93% of new cases in the last 60 days, and about 80% of Nevada’s confirmed COVID-19 cases since February. (Editor’s Note: Nevada Health Response has changed its protocol for reporting testing data. The state’s data dashboard now includes COVID-19 antigen test results and probable cases, so keep this mind while assessing the recent spike in case counts.)
🚨 Para obtener una lista completa de las clínicas de vacunación contra el COVID-19 y la influenza que se llevarán a cabo ESTA SEMANA, visite https://t.co/innWTKxVQA. GRATIS para todos los mayores de 12 años, independientemente de su seguro o estado migratorio. 🚨 pic.twitter.com/xG7nng7Fom
— Immunize Nevada (@ImmunizeNV) October 26, 2021
This week, our COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to trend lower. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 577 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 47 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 624 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 7,577 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and we’re averaging about 16 COVID-19 deaths per day.
According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of yesterday), 4,254,060 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 3,580,718 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,935,490 patients have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning an estimated 62.8% of Nevadans (and more specifically, about 73.8% of all Nevadans aged 12 and up, and 75.7% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 1,618,862 Nevada patients are now fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 52.6% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 61.7% of all Nevadans aged 12 and up, and 63.8% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated.
Booster Update: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and J&J boosters are all coming online.
Late last week, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky approved her agency’s and the FDA’s advisory panels’ plan to authorize Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen, or J&J) COVID-19 vaccine booster shots. Like Pfizer-BioNTech, these groups are eligible for Moderna booster shots at least six months following their second dose: patients aged 65+, select immunocompromised patients who face greater risks of contracting COVID-19, and workers who have to work in high-risk environments. Meanwhile for J&J, they recommended boosters at least two months following the first dose, and they expanded eligibility to all adult patients.
In another bit of interesting and potentially very useful news, Dr. Walensky also included in the federal government’s new booster authorization the ability for patients to try a “mix and match” booster regimen. This means that patients who are concerned about any of the incredibly rare side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine they originally used can opt for a different COVID-19 as a booster. And while we don’t yet have definitive data on what’s the best booster option for OG J&J patients, this does mean OG J&J patients can try Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna as a booster.
Please keep in mind that all three of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available here in the U.S. are highly effective against severe and potentially fatal disease. For everyone here who needs COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, check Immunize Nevada for an updated list of local vaccination clinics.
COVID-19 and the economy: As we’ve previously noted, the Mervyn’s ad is not a realistic panacea.
Over the weekend, The Nevada Independent’s Jackie Valley took a closer look at Nevada’s “K-shaped recovery”, our lagging labor force participation rate, and why so many workers and ex-workers have not gone “back to normal”. Surprise (but not really), we can’t just live out those classic Mervyn’s TV commercials and expect “Open, open, open!” to solve everything. And no, this has nothing to do with mask mandates and vaccine mandates being viewed as “lockdowns!” either.
Rather, it appears that the combination of our pre-existing economic inequities and some ex-workers’ decisions to make post-career burnout “lifestyle changes” provides the best explanation for some Nevadans’ hesitance to rush back into in-person work. As much as some politicians and pundits love to blame “lockdowns!” (including public health safety measures that don’t actually require business shutdowns) for all our woes, that’s simply not the case.
There are plenty of ways for us to fix our economy. Disregarding public health is not one of them. Can’t we just retire that narrative already?
Next, an update on breakthrough infections
According to the October 21 Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) report, only 0.95% of fully vaccinated Clark County residents (10,601) have tested positive for COVID-19, only 0.0482% (539) have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, and only 0.0135% of fully vaccinated residents (151) have died of COVID-19. In contrast, 26.48% of unvaccinated Clark County residents (318,022) have tested positive for COVID-19, and 4.77% of unvaccinated residents (5,724) have died of COVID-19.
Once again the actual evidence shows a tiny risk of fully vaccinated Americans succumbing to COVID-19, in stark contrast to the mounting evidence of the grave danger facing unvaccinated Americans. And while we occasionally see reports of vaccinated patients experiencing side effects and adverse reactions, these remain incredibly rare and pose far less of a risk than contracting COVID-19.
Even if you think SNHD’s data is skewed and/or incomplete, we still have ample evidence elsewhere showing how the COVID-19 vaccines work to prevent severe disease and reduce the potential for further spread. As we’ve discussed before, this does not mean that the mere existence of these vaccines alone solves all our COVID-19 problems. Rather, this means that these vaccines are highly effective in saving people’s lives and curbing further spread of an increasingly preventable disease.
Finally, a quick and hopefully not-so-spooky holiday PSA
In case you didn’t notice last week, Nevada Health Response issued some guidance on how to safely celebrate Halloween and Nevada Day this weekend. Basically, it’s chock full of the usuals: Get vaccinated, wear masks in indoor and/or crowded spaces, wash your hands, stay home if you’re feeling sick, and limit your time at other people’s doors if you’re trick-or-treating with the kids.
On that note, enjoy the holiday weekend. And however you prefer to celebrate, please stay safe.
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.