COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly again, both nationwide and right here in Nevada. At this point, we’re still wondering whether America can and will do enough to prevent this latest surge from outpacing our vaccination strategy.
In better news, deaths are not rising as rapidly as they did during prior “waves” of infection surges, though we are noticing upticks in hospitalizations. Meanwhile vaccinations continue to rise at a rapid pace, despite the recent Johnson & Johnson setbacks. Here’s the latest on the state of the pandemic, nationally and here at home.
Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Daily death counts remain low, but hospitalizations are creeping higher again.
According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has crept a little higher to 1.17, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 117 new infections. Douglas (0.71), Lyon (0.85), White Pine (0.85), Carson City (0.87), Elko (0.88), Humboldt (0.94), and Washoe (0.94) Counties all have infection rates under 1.00, while Churchill (1.02), Nye (1.10!), Lincoln (1.17!), Clark (1.20!!), and Lander (2.84!!!!!) Counties are all suffering more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 15.2 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Nye (3.1), Storey (3.5), Elko (4.1), Humboldt (4.2), Pershing (4.2), White Pine (6.0), Douglas (6.1), Washoe (8.5), Churchill (9.4), Lyon (11.4), Lander (15.5), and Clark (17.1) Counties and Carson City (17.9) 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 20.2% (according to the Indy’s calculation of “new positives as a percent of new people tested each day”), and our seven-day average remains in the 15% to 20% range. These figures remain well above the World Health Organization’s recommended 5% test positivity benchmark for safe reopening.
Appointments still available today in Las Vegas – free COVID-19 vaccine clinic for anyone 16 and older!
Please help us spread the word – appts will go quickly): https://t.co/nPVv71JSnO
Pfizer 2-dose vaccine (16+); walk-ins accepted. #3millionreasons #EveryNevadanCounts pic.twitter.com/rw8c4evlFR
— Immunize Nevada (@ImmunizeNV) April 19, 2021
#COVID19Vaccine first-dose appointments available today in Beatty, 10 am to 4 pm.
Appointments also available in Amargosa Valley (Tuesday) and Pahrump (Wednesday) next week.
— Nye County, Nevada (@nyecounty) April 19, 2021
This week, hospitalizations are creeping higher again. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 311 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 93 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 404 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 5,368 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and this week we’re averaging six to seven COVID-19 deaths per day.
According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of 1:00 PM today), 2,202,110 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 1,834,497 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,123,822 first doses have been administered thus far, meaning an estimated 36.5% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 46.6% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 739,071 of these patients have been fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 24% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 30.9% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated. (Editor’s Note: I got my own first vaccine dose earlier this month, and I’ll go into further detail in the weeks ahead on my own vaccination experience.)
“Here’s the bottom line: Getting the vaccine will help you, will help others, and will help all of us end this pandemic. […] It will help us move quicker in returning to everything we love.”
– CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky
As we’ve been not-so-subtly hinting at for the last few days, America is gradually moving away from our past primary problem of insufficient vaccine supply and vaccination infrastructure. That’s not to say we still don’t have problems with our supply chain, as we continue to see inequity in vaccine distribution to communities of color. Rather, we’re entering into a new reality where we must confront the dual problems of health care inequity that’s rooted in our institutionalized racism and vaccine hesitancy that’s turbocharged by political polarization.
Even though the COVID-19 vaccines have generally been most accessible in more affluent suburban areas with many white Republicans, these are the areas where we’re starting to see more of an insufficient demand problem. In an interview with CNN last weekend, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci pointed out the “paradoxical” complaints among Republican politicians who simultaneously demand rapid reopenings while refusing to support efforts to vaccinate more people. While some public health professionals have been urging former President Donald Trump to do more to encourage his supporters to get vaccinated, others, such as famed Republican pollster Frank Luntz, have instead suggested that more medical professionals “speak Trump voters’ language” in framing vaccination on terms of personal responsibility and family values. (Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for the next edition of “This Week in Corona Scams”, where we’ll explore the absolutely bizarre world of “Conspirituality” that may help explain why vaccine hesitancy and overall COVID-19 denialism are still big problems.)
While Fauci has previously complained about Trump’s refusal to be more proactive in promoting vaccination, he and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky seemed to be taking pages out of Frank Luntz’s playbook during today’s White House COVID-19 Briefing. More specifically, Fauci explained, “We say we want ‘normalcy’. The ‘highway to normalcy’ is vaccination. The more we vaccinate, the closer we move towards ‘normalcy’.”
As she cited the “real-world study” released late last month showing that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were 90% effective in preventing new COVID-19 infections, over 99% effective in preventing hospitalizations, and 100% effective in preventing deaths, Walensky stated, “These vaccines are working. The efficacy we saw in the clinical trials are now materializing in the real world.” She continued, “Here’s the bottom line: Getting the vaccine will help you, will help others, and will help all of us end this pandemic. […] It will help us move quicker in returning to everything we love.”
“There are now thousands more people ready to help you to get a shot. There are millions more doses available. There are now thousands more locations for you to get your shot.”
– Andy Slavitt, White House Senior COVID-19 Response Advisor
Continuing on this theme of using more positive language to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated, White House Senior COVID-19 Response Advisor Andy Slavitt exclaimed, “The [supply chain] problems are all in the past. That can not be said enough.” As Slavitt touted President Joe Biden’s effort to keep his promises on expanding vaccine access, he sought to do so in a way to show how much easier vaccination is becoming: “There are now thousands more people ready to help you to get a shot. There are millions more doses available. There are now thousands more locations for you to get your shot.”
In recent days, Nevada’s vaccination stats have again fallen behind the national average, particularly in doses administered per 100,000 and the percentage of adults who have received doses. Nevertheless, Karissa Loper, Deputy Bureau Chief for Nevada DHHS’ Bureau of Child, Family, and Community Wellness, stated during Nevada Health Response’s press call, “I am pleased with the progress we’ve made so far, since the vaccine rollout in December 2020.”
In better news, the mobile vaccination units are on the road again. As Loper noted, “The mobile vaccination units continue to make their way across the state, reaching rural and Native American tribal communities. […] These are first come, first serve units. These units are now stocked with the Pfizer vaccine.” Loper reminded Nevadans, especially people in communities where mobile vaccination clinics have been planned, to check with Immunize Nevada and their local public health offices for updates on where they start their vaccination regimens.
“We need time for the vaccines to kick in. We still need to take prevention measures today.”
– CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky
At the White House briefing, Dr. Walensky warned, “We remain in a complicated stage.” Indeed, even as vaccinations continue to rise, Walensky pointed out, “Cases and hospitalizations are increasing in some parts of the country, and cases are rising among young people who have not yet been vaccinated.”
As she explained why she continues to advise against the rapid reversal of health safety rules despite the rapid expansion of vaccinations, Walensky stated, “We still have a high amount of disease out there. We have a lot of vaccines out there, but we need a month for all the vaccines to kick in. We need time for the vaccines to kick in. We still need to take prevention measures today.”
Following Governor Steve Sisolak’s (D) announcement of the state’s newly accelerated reopening timeline last week, state health officials did not indicate any change of plans today. They did, however, encourage Nevadans to keep up best health practices and schedule vaccine appointments if they haven’t yet done so.
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.
The cover photo is a screenshot taken by me.