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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 Heart of the Matter

COVID-19 continues to spread, though we have more evidence suggesting that the “Delta Surge” is finally subsiding. So how bad is it? Where are we seeing improvement? And what else must we do in order to finally get ahead of this pandemic?

Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Our infection rates are dropping throughout the state, but caseloads remain very high throughout the state – especially outside Clark County. Hospitalizations and new deaths are also trending lower, but remain well above our springtime lows. And finally, over half of Nevadans are now fully vaccinated.
COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care, travel
Photo by Andrew Davey

According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has dropped to 0.98, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to an even 98 new infections. Mineral (0.60), Douglas (0.75), Churchill (0.76), White Pine (0.76), Lyon (0.78), Carson City (0.82), Lander (0.84), Lincoln (0.85), Pershing (0.91), Clark (0.95), Nye (0.96), and Washoe (0.97) Counties have infection rates under 1.00, while Humboldt (1.02) and Elko (1.11) Counties are suffering more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 29.6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Mineral (12.7), Clark (20.4!), Pershing (25.5!), Esmeralda (32.7!), Nye (35.3!), Lincoln (35.8!), Douglas (37.1!), Storey (38.1!), Carson City (43.9!!), Washoe (50.0!!!), Churchill (65.4!!!), Lander (67.1!!!), Lyon (67.3!!!), Mineral (76.4!!!!), Eureka (77.4!!!!), White Pine (86.5!!!!), Elko (115.6????!!!!), and Humboldt (136.7????!!!!) 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 10.61%. According to the Mayo Clinic, our statewide seven-day test positivity average has slipped a bit to 12.00%. 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 92% of new cases in the last 30 days, at least 93% of new cases in the last 60 days, and about 75% of Nevada’s confirmed COVID-19 cases since February. 

This week, our COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending lower again. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 827 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 72 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 899 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 7,045 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and we’re averaging about 24 COVID-19 deaths per day.

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of yesterday), 3,977,580 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 3,372,456 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,862,688 patients have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning an estimated 60.5% of Nevadans (and more specifically, about 73% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 1,555,444 Nevada patients are now fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 50.5% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 61.4% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated. 

Next, some notes on how the impending government shutdown and debt ceiling calamity may affect public health
stimulus, coup, Parler, terrorism, Washington D.C.
Photo by Andrew Davey

Last month, we sounded the alarms over Congressional Democrats’ decision not to include some kind of debt ceiling remedy in their “Build Back Better” reconciliation package. Last Thursday, the White House began to signal to federal government agencies that they should prepare for a government shutdown should Congress fail to pass a continuing resolution (CR) by this Thursday. Not only does this have major economic ramifications, but this will also affect America’s pandemic response should the federal government begin a partial shutdown this weekend.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, much of the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be shut down should Congress fail to keep the federal government fully funded and open. Everything from vaccine distribution and surge response to genomic sequencing, critical treatment research, and a slew of relief programs (such as rent assistance) will probably be harmed and lead to more Americans falling into harm’s way if the government begins to shut down this weekend.

Considering all the challenges America faces amidst this ongoing pandemic, the last thing we need is another federal government shutdown. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) more or less indicated this herself in a letter to her fellow House Democrats last Saturday where she told them to prepare to wrap up work on the Build Back Better reconciliation infrastructure package, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (or “the bipartisan bill”), continuing government funding, and debt ceiling resolution by the end of this week. For pandemic response, economic stability, and perhaps the very future survival of American democracy, there’s a whole lot riding on Pelosi’s letter, Democrats’ promise to “Build Back Better”, and Thursday’s budget deadline.

For all the ongoing far-right bellyaching over “lockdowns!”, America’s public health safety infrastructure remains a patchwork of state/local and private sector rules.
Steve Sisolak, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine, mask
Photo by Andrew Davey

Over the last two weeks, we’ve examined the political response to the government’s COVID-19 response strategies next door in California and up north in Canada. Today, let’s focus more squarely on public health. As we examine Our World in Data’s collection of maps documenting the many different approaches to COVID-19 containment around the world, we can see that our “lockdown!” measures that far-right politicians and pundits rail against largely pale in comparison to the tougher rules being implemented around the world – such as Australia’s ongoing stay-at-home and business shutdown orders, and the European Union and multiple Canadian provinces opting for broader vaccine passport rules

Though we’re finally seeing some progress on setting and implementing vaccination standards in order to guarantee safer and more sustainable reopenings, the big problem remains that we lack much of any nationwide standards. While Nevada, California, and at least three more states and Puerto Rico have begun to implement certain vaccination requirements, nine states now have laws on the books banning some or all vaccine mandates. While some businesses are implementing their own vaccination rules, they’re often having to handle enforcement (including the handling of belligerent anti-vaccine activists) on their own.

President Joe Biden’s new slate of national vaccine mandates were long overdue and stand on solid legal ground, yet they nonetheless face an uncertain judicial future due to the increasingly polarized partisan nature of the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts. Congress and state legislators have the ability at their respective levels to rectify this. But of course, Congress is now busy trying to fend off a potential shutdown showdown. This right here says a lot about America’s lack of pandemic preparedness.

And finally, here’s a mini TWICS update on anti-vaccine propaganda that’s gone way too viral.

Since the early days of our “This Week in Corona Scams” series, we’ve been tracking the journey of anti-science propaganda and fraudulent “coronavirus cures” from formerly fringe anti-vaccine activist circles, Conspirituality bro-science cliques, and the “intellectual dark web” into mainstream political dialogue. When compounded with seemingly “pro-vaccine influencers” and media pundits who amplify anti-vaxxers’ “freedom” messaging while castigating science-based reporting and analysis as “death shaming”, all of this often results in further amplification of false anti-vaccine propaganda.

Case in point: the ongoing “debate” over the COVID-19 vaccines and severe heart inflammation. Researchers at the Ottawa Heart Institute released a preprint of their study results that suggested patients who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines face a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing myocarditis or pericarditis. But since the researchers failed to include the accurate number of vaccinations in Ottawa during their research period, the actual and accurate data show a far more infinitesimal 1 in 25,000 chance of mRNA fully vaccinated patients developing severe heart inflammation. From all the available data we have on the COVID-19 vaccines, myocarditis and pericarditis remain incredibly rare and very treatable side effects. Meanwhile, COVID-19 itself is more likely to cause heart problems than any of the vaccines.

Unfortunately anti-vaxxers and their media pundit enablers continue to seize on anything and everything that fits into their narrative, then present it as “truth ‘they’ don’t want you to know”, even after that “truth” turns out to be false. This is yet another reason why we all need to check the facts before we indulge in any more “hot takes” that may abound in “spice” and lack in substance. 

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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