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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: The Good Surge, and the Bad Spike

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

COVID-19 continues to spread, and our numbers continue to look rough. As Nevada once again makes national and international headlines for the wrong reasons, here’s an update on the state of the pandemic. 

Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Infection rates, new daily caseloads, and hospitalizations rise further. Delta has rapidly become Nevada’s predominant variant, and just over 43% of Nevadans are fully vaccinated. Clark County’s outbreak remains dangerously high, while Northern Nevada’s COVID-19 stats look less severe.
COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care
Photo by Andrew Davey

According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has bounced back to 1.18, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 118 new infections. Elko (0.78), Douglas (0.89), and Lyon (0.89) Counties and Carson City (0.90) have infection rates under 1.00, while Lincoln is at 1.00 exactly, and Washoe (1.03), Churchill (1.07), Lander (1.10), Clark (1.19), Nye (1.19), White Pine (1.19), and Humboldt (1.35!) are all suffering more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 21.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Carson City (2.6), Lander (2.6), Douglas (3.2), Storey (3.5), Washoe (3.7), Lincoln (5.5), Humboldt (5.9), Nye (6.8), White Pine (7.5), Lincoln (8.3), Elko (8.9), and Lyon (8.9) are all reporting under ten new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day, while Churchill (12.0), Eureka (21.1!), Mineral (22.2!), Clark (27.5!), and Esmeralda (32.7!) Counties are 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 surged even higher to 10.9%. According to the Mayo Clinic, our statewide seven-day test positivity average has inched higher to 14.62%, which is the highest we’ve seen in the past two months. And 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 75% of our new COVID-19 cases in the last 30 days, 62% of our new COVID-19 cases in the last 60 days, and 41% of Nevada’s cumulative confirmed COVID-19 cases.

This week, our COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to climb. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 699 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 72 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 771 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 5,752 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and we’re averaging just over six COVID-19 deaths per day.

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of 11:30 AM today), 3,160,250 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 2,861,309 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,582,022 patients have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning an estimated 51.4% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 63.2% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 1,328,846 of these patients are now fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 43.1% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 53.7% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated. (Editor’s Note: I posted another update this past Monday on my new fully vaccinated life, as well as a new edition of “This Week in Corona Scams” yesterday where we addressed the latest false rumors about COVID-19, the vaccines, and the alleged “miracle cures” that really aren’t.)  

It’s been just over a month since Nevada’s “full reopening”. The rest of America is watching.
COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care
Photo by Andrew Davey

Since spring, we’ve been tracking the gradual devolution of America’s vaccine hesitancy problem into more of a full-blown vaccine hostility crisis. Back in May, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) had already committed Nevada to a “full reopening” on June 1 while President Joe Biden expressed hope that we’d be celebrating “independence from the virus” on July 4. Nevada’s and America’s overall COVID-19 outbreak seemed to be winding down during that time. But as new vaccinations waned while health safety rules fell by the wayside, summer travel ramped up, and a new and more contagious variant rapidly took over the COVID-19 landscape, those heady hopes of “independence from the virus” eventually turned into a new twist on the old conversations from 2020 over whether America has been too quick to dismiss public health concerns… And too slow to take sufficient action to protect our public health.

As Nevada’s COVID-19 outlook has deteriorated, the rest of the country has eventually taken notice. And this week, Los Angeles County (California) Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis went further in publicly recommending that Californians avoid traveling here and other states that the CDC lists as having “high” rates of community transmission.  

Steve Sisolak, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine
Screenshot by Andrew Davey

How are our state’s leaders responding to this heightened scrutiny and criticism of our COVID-19 infection surge? Sisolak Chief of Staff Michelle White simply pointed out that, “We are a tourist destination state. We are a place where people like to come and visit.” She then promised that state and local officials will do their part to ensure safe conditions for travelers and workers on the Las Vegas Strip and throughout the state.

Yet when it comes to questions on whether Sisolak will reinstate any kind of mask mandate, bring back social distancing rules, and/or impose any vaccination requirements, White confirmed that he intends to continue to allow local authorities take the lead on public health. And on questions on whether prospective travelers should continue to book vacations and/or business trips here, White said, “Every individual needs to make an assessment on the decisions they want to make,” then added that fully vaccinated travelers can decide for themselves whether they will wear masks and/or take additional precautions while they’re visiting.

“The best way to get past this pandemic is to get more vaccine shots into arms. We are making progress in getting more vaccine shots into arms.” 
– Candice McDaniel, Nevada Health Response
Steve Sisolak, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine
Screenshot by Andrew Davey

At least we do have some good news to note. Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Deputy Director Candice McDaniel noted that vaccination initiations have risen 32% since the launch of Vax Nevada Days, and that the state’s daily vaccine administration rate has recently surpassed the national average. But even with this recent improvement, McDaniel acknowledged, “At this rate, it will take until December 2021 to vaccinate at least 70% of Nevadans.”

One way they’re hoping to turn the tide more dramatically is with the launch of “Viva Vax Vegas” at Park MGM this Saturday. This will only be the first of additional Strip pop-up vaccination clinics to come, and these pop-up clinics will be open to workers, other locals, and tourists. Beyond The Strip, state health officials indicated they’re working with FEMA, local officials, and community partner groups to launch additional pop-up vaccination sites across Clark County, offer more vaccination sites in Native American tribal communities and other rural communities, and work on local vaccine outreach to combat anti-vaxx disinformation.

COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care, travel, San Clemente, Orange County, California
Photo by Andrew Davey

As McDaniel put it, “The best way to get past this pandemic is to get more vaccine shots into arms. We are making progress in getting more vaccine shots into arms.” And going beyond community vaccination sites, McDaniel noted one more way the state is hoping to increase both vaccine availability and vaccine uptake: “We know Nevadans trust their own physicians. That’s why we have more than 300 providers enrolled to order vaccines.”

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 provided by MARIO Olaya from Pixabay.

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