COVID-19 continues to spread, and our numbers continue to look rough. However, there are some glimmers of hope. In order to turn these glimmers of hope into sustainable progress, we need to recognize just how severe we’ve allowed this pandemic to deteriorate into all over again.
Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Infection rates mostly continue to trend lower, but remain high. Hospitalizations and new deaths are now matching “Winter Surge” levels from six months ago. However vaccinations are also ticking higher, as just over 45% of Nevadans are now fully vaccinated. The vast majority of the state continues to suffer a severe outbreak, with much of Rural Nevada now experiencing a startling infection surge.
According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has slipped further to 1.07, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 107 new infections. Only Elko County (0.92) has an infection rate under 1.00, while Clark (1.02), Nye (1.03), Churchill (1.10), Douglas (1.17), White Pine (1.23!), Carson City (1.27!), Washoe (1.27!), Humboldt (1.38!), Lincoln (1.43!!), and Lyon (1.45!!) Counties are all suffering more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 35.1 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Only Lander (2.6) and Pershing (4.2) Counties are reporting under ten new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day, while Elko (18.7), White Pine (19.4), Storey (20.8!), Humboldt (22.1!), Churchill (22.4!), Douglas (27.2!), Washoe (30.4!), Carson City (32.2!), Nye (35.6!), Clark (36.5!), Lincoln (49.6!!), Lyon (58.9!!) and Mineral (63.4!!!) Counties are all suffering higher caseloads.
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” has inched higher to 16.3%. According to the Mayo Clinic, our statewide seven-day test positivity average has slipped a bit but remains high at 17.95%. According to the Scripps Institute’s Outbreak.info, the Delta variant (B.1617.2) has spread quite rapidly here in Nevada since May: Delta accounts for 90% of new cases in the last 30 days, 80% of new cases in the last 60 days, and 63% of Nevada’s cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Do you need to be vaccinated or tested in Southern Nevada? On the https://t.co/xoRzLIOWRS website, we added county-specific vaccine sites under the COVID-19 tab. Long-term, pharmacy, and mobile vaccine/testing sites will be added often. pic.twitter.com/qmBhFnGwWc
— @NVHealthResponse (@NVHealthRespon1) August 9, 2021
This week, our COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 1,212 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 105 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 1,317 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients – the most since January. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 6,096 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and we’re averaging over 20 COVID-19 deaths per day for the first time since February.
According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of last night), 3,403,910 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 3,041,339 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,702,416 patients have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning an estimated 55.3% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 67.2% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 1,395,968 of these patients are now fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 45.3% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 55.9% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated. (Editor’s Note: I will be out of town next week, but I plan to return the week of August 23.)
Next, some important COVID-19 odds and ends… including some good news for a change!
As expected last week, Esmeralda County is set to exit the Nevada state mask rule this Friday under Emergency Directive 048’s adherence to CDC transmission data. Meanwhile Humboldt and Pershing Counties now suffer high transmission, so we’ll have 12 counties and over 90% of the state’s population covered under the mask mandate this Friday.
In better news, Nevada’s vaccination rate continues to move in a positive direction. As of this past Sunday, our seven-day moving average of daily vaccine doses administered hit 7,243 according to the CDC. This marks a 42.35% increase from our July 10 low of 5,088, and it’s even a 9.36% increase from the 6,623 average daily vaccine doses administered around this time last week.
And though our overall COVID-19 stats remain dangerously high, there’s one more glimmer of hope buried in here: Nevada had the second-slowest rate of growth for COVID-19 infections in the last week. Only Missouri marked slower growth in new infections, and that followed Missouri leading America’s Delta Surge early this summer with a very low vaccination rate and massive outbreaks triggered by super-spreader events in places like Branson and Lake of the Ozarks. Meanwhile weeks after national and international media descended upon Massachusetts to report on the Fourth of July Provincetown Outbreak, Massachusetts still ranks below the national average in infection rates and near the bottom (in a good way!) in daily caseload and test positivity according to Covid Act Now, as Massachusetts also happens to be America’s second most vaccinated state (only behind Vermont).
Finally, one more personal PSA before I go
I must admit: I’ve been agonizing at times over what will be my last summer trip to visit family in California. Like so many other Americans, I was hoping for a “Hot Vax Summer“, and I’m so bummed that we’re instead suffering under another “COVID-infected summer from hell”.
But as I prepare to leave, I’m also preparing to do even more of what I did last trip: pack plenty of masks, use them and wear them, and plan my outings based on our knowledge of high-risk versus lower-risk activities. This means I’ll probably be spending more of my “alone time” at the beach, dining more “al fresco”, and masking up at public indoor spaces and when approaching crowds.
Earlier this week, I learned that some relatives had tested positive for COVID-19, and one of them ended up in the hospital. Fortunately the hospitalized relative is fully vaccinated, so it looks like he’ll make it, but he’s precisely the kind of immunocompromised person who faces higher risk of breakthrough infection. For him the risk turned into reality when he visited family members who are not fully vaccinated, and who do not take basic precautions like masking and social distancing.
This right here is why I continue to preach the gospel of taking public health seriously. This stuff matters. I know we technically have a few more weeks of summer, and I know how tempting it feels to just say “COVID is over”, but let’s not delude ourselves. This pandemic is still happening, and there’s much more we must do in order to lift ourselves out of this mess.
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.