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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: Origin Story

COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care, travel

COVID-19 is still spreading, though we’re experiencing another slowdown in new infections nationally and here in Nevada. And even though vaccinations continue at a slower pace, our earlier ramp-up in vaccinations is resulting in fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

Here’s the latest on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, across America and here at home.

Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Infection rates remain high, caseloads tick lower, hospitalizations and deaths remain very low, and vaccinations continue to inch higher. Washoe County and rural outbreaks still appear to be waning, while Clark County continues to suffer more severe COVID-19 spread. 

According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has slipped a bit to 1.00 exactly, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 100 new infections. Elko (0.64), Douglas (0.79), Carson City (0.83), Nye (0.85), Washoe (0.92), and Lyon (0.85) Counties all have infection rates under 1.00, while Lander and White Pine Counties are at 1.00 exactly, and Clark (1.01), Churchill (1.18), Humboldt (1.24!), and Lincoln (1.30!) Counties are all suffering more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 6.8 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Nye (0.9), Washoe (2.1), Douglas (3.5), Carson City (4.9), Humboldt (5.9), Storey (6.9), Lyon (7.0), Churchill (8.0), Clark (8.1), and Elko (8.1) Counties are all reporting under 20 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day, while Lincoln County (38.6!!!) is well over that benchmark.

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 ticked up slightly to 3.5% after hitting a record low last week. According to the Mayo Clinic, our statewide seven-day test positivity average has dropped a bit to 6.29%, which is right in the middle of the 4.6% to 7.8% range we’ve seen for the past month.

This week, COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low and stable. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 207 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 44 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 251 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 5,635 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and we continue to average about four COVID-19 deaths per day.

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of 11:55 AM today), 2,990,680 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 2,649,807 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,469,828 patients have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning an estimated 47.7% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 59.4% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 1,221,242 of these patients are now fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 39.6% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 50% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated. (Editor’s Note: I am now fully vaccinated, and I will post more updates in the weeks ahead on my new fully vaccinated life. Also, here’s a heads-up that starting this week, we’ll probably post COVID-19 Updates once per week.)  

So how do our COVID-19 stats measure up?
COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care, Orange County, Santa Ana, California, travel
Photo by Andrew Davey

For the first time in perhaps a long time, it’s just us today. With no official federal or state briefing to report on, let’s jump into the numbers ourselves to assess how Nevada is faring under our full reopening with few remaining health safety rules in place.

On one hand, we are faring far better this time around than we did one year ago, when Governor Steve Sisolak (D) gave the green light for casino resorts to reopen under certain guidelines, and when he initially allowed for additional business reopenings without a mask mandate. (The mask mandate first came online on June 24, 2020.) As you can see above, hospitalizations and death rates remain low, and even new infections are not spiking like they did last summer. This time around, the COVID-19 vaccines are coming to our rescue.

COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care
Photo by Andrew Davey

However as The Washington Post noted earlier this week, we are one of eight states to see our infections jump in the last two weeks, and we just so happen to have a vaccination rate below the national average. According to Covid Act Now’s most recent data, Nevada is #9 (out of the 50 states and 3 U.S. territories) in daily new cases, #6 in statewide infection rates, #7 in test positivity, and only #33 in residents who’ve received at least one vaccine dose. At least we’re not experiencing the nation’s worst outbreak, but we are clearly behind neighbors like California and New Mexico who have invested more in public health, yet we’ve also been fairly quick to loosen health safety rules. 

Before anyone claims that I’m advocating “lockdowns forever!” or “strangling the economy!”, here’s a reminder that we’ve consistently noted how other states and other parts of the world have had more success with reopening by keeping in mind that public health and economic progress go together hand-in-hand. We don’t need to pit “health against the economy”. It’s a false dichotomy. The sooner we accept this simple truth, the better off we will be going forward.

“There were other people around us who were sick in Las Vegas. We don’t know what they were sick with, but it’s starting to sound like they were sick with this strange virus.”
– Dr. Michael Webber, during an interview with Nevada Today in May 2020
COVID-19, Michael Webber, CES, Las Vegas
Photo provided by Dr. Michael Webber

In May 2020, we took a closer look at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and noticed some circumstantial evidence pointing to the possibility of COVID-19 arriving in America (and more specifically, here in Nevada) earlier than federal and state public health officials were claiming at the time. As he awaited his post-CES flight home, ENGIE Chief Science and Technology Officer Dr. Michael Webber noticed other people around him coughing and sneezing. From there, “I worried I might get sick also. And surely enough, a couple days later on January 12, I started to show symptoms.” 

Webber then described the symptoms: “I had a lot of chills, sore throat, headache, body ache. I didn’t breathe well. I didn’t sleep well. I had those intense symptoms for five days, then I had a nagging cough for another three weeks after that.” Those are some of the symptoms of COVID-19. Yet even after Webber later tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, no one from the Southern Nevada Health District or any other U.S. public health agency had contacted him regarding his experience at CES 2020 before he spoke with us and other media outlets. 

This week, the Associated Press reported that a CDC-led study that was published last December includes analysis of American Red Cross blood donations that suggests that COVID-19 was spreading here in America as early as December 2019. More specifically, the study identifies nine patients whose blood samples tested positive for coronavirus antibodies that had developed before the official announcement of America’s first confirmed COVID-19 case in Washington State on January 21, 2020.

We need the full truth about the origin of COVID-19, and we need the full truth on how it spread into America.
Donald Trump
Photo by Andrew Davey

This is not the first time we’ve seen evidence that casts doubt on the original official timeline of COVID-19 in America, yet we’re finally starting to see the CDC publicly acknowledge the possibility that COVID-19 began spreading in the U.S. well before that Washington State case was announced on January 21, 2020. 

Why does any of this matter? For all of former President Donald Trump’s ongoing insistence that the Wuhan lab leak origin theory somehow vindicates him, we have growing evidence pointing to the likelihood that no matter how SARS-CoV-2 began spreading in China, America had multiple opportunities throughout the early days of COVID-19 to rein in the pandemic.

Photo by Andrew Davey

Of course it’s important for medical scientists to find out how this pandemic began, as we’ll then know more about how to stop future pandemics. This also explains why we must research, learn, and ultimately accept the full truth about how the pandemic arrived and initially spread here in America. If we don’t figure out what went wrong, how the hell will we ever be able to make the right moves the next time we confront such a viral threat?

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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Comments (1)

  1. Thanks Andrew, Very informative. Please keep up the good work on this subject.

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