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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 information

COVID-19 Update: Vaccine Chronicles, May Edition

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

COVID-19 is still spreading, and Nevada appears to be stuck in a range of fairly high spread. Nonetheless, hospitalizations and deaths remain well below the levels we experienced during prior “waves” of infection surges. 

As vaccinations continue at a slower pace here in Nevada and nationally, federal, state, and local health officials are trying to figure out ways to boost our herd immunity to the higher threshold we’ll likely need to prevent future “waves” of severe infection surges. 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 and caseloads remain fairly stable, hospitalizations and deaths remain very low, and we’re nearing the 1,000,000 fully vaccinated benchmark.

According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has inched lower to 0.99, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 99 new infections. Lyon (0.73), Carson City (0.74), Humboldt (0.74), Elko (0.79), Douglas (0.85), Nye (0.85), Churchill (0.92), and Washoe (0.92) Counties all have infection rates under 1.00, while Clark (1.01), White Pine (1.15!), Lander (1.78!!!!), and Lincoln (3.31!!!!!!) Counties are all suffering more rapid spread. Statewide, we’re seeing 11.8 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. White Pine (3.0), Nye (3.1), Humboldt (4.2), Washoe (6.2), Churchill (6.9), Eureka (7.0), Lyon (7.9), Carson City (9.5), Douglas (9.9), Elko (11.4), Clark (13.6), and Storey (13.9) Counties are all reporting under 20 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day.

According to the official Nevada Health Response dashboard, Nevada’s 14-day test positivity average based on “new positives as a percentage of new test encounters” has slipped lower to 5.4%. And according to the Mayo Clinic, our statewide seven-day test positivity average sits at 6.22%, which is in the middle of a 3.4% to 8.4% range we’ve been in for the past month. 

This week, COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low and stable. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 256 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 52 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 308 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 5,515 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today, and this week we’re averaging four to five COVID-19 deaths per day.

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker (as of 11:30 AM today), 2,668,170 total COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered to Nevada, and 2,248,770 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 1,287,018 first doses have been administered thus far, meaning an estimated 41.8% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 53.2% of Nevada adults) have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 995,821 of these patients have been fully vaccinated, meaning an estimated 32.3% of Nevadans (and more specifically, 41.4% of Nevada adults) are fully vaccinated. (Editor’s Note: I got my second vaccine dose late last month, and I’ll post more updates as I prepare for my fully vaccinated future!)  

Next, let’s review the incredibly changing landscape of the COVID-19 vaccines in America.
COVID-19, COVID-19 Vaccines, vaccine science, health care
Photo by Andrew Davey

Over the past five months, we’ve been tracking a remarkable journey with the launch of the COVID-19 vaccines. Last December, it was obvious that America would start with very limited vaccine supply. By January, it was becoming clearer that America was suffering from an entire vaccine supply chain crisis

Following President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the federal government began to develop a more cooperative relationship with state and local public health authorities while Biden was renegotiating contracts with Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to secure more vaccine supply. Then with the passage of the American Rescue Plan in March, the Biden administration finally took initial pilot programs for pharmacy vaccination clinics, community vaccination centers, and regional vaccine mega-sites, and transformed them into the very extensive national vaccination program that places the COVID-19 vaccines within five miles of 90% of Americans today.

Despite all this progress in fixing the vaccine supply chain and boosting vaccine supply to the point where pharmacies are starting to drop appointment requirements and allow “walk-in vaccination”, we’re now seeing a slowdown in new vaccine doses administered. As we’ve been documenting on this site, America’s chief vaccine problem is no longer on the supply side. Now, it’s on the demand side: While a large segment of Americans have just been waiting for these vaccines to become more conveniently available and more of a known quantity in their communities, we will probably also have to come to terms with a potentially large segment of Americans who refuse to accept any of these vaccines because they’ve already been inundated by internet “influencers” and other political provocateurs who have made it their (highly monetized) mission to destroy America’s confidence in vaccines.

“Go to any place where you can get the vaccine. Get your vaccine as soon as you can.” 
– Karissa Loper, Nevada Health Response

This week, the FDA and the CDC officially opened one new door for the Biden administration to pursue its new vaccination goals: They extended emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 12-15 year-old adolescents. As the week went on, Biden got some additional good news that can help in reaching his vaccination goals: Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to vaccination centers, pharmacies that participate in the federal pharmacy vaccination clinic program will team up with community colleges to host on-campus vaccination clinics, and a growing chorus of epidemiologists and other public health experts are voicing greater confidence than ever before that fully vaccinated people face miniscule risk of dying from COVID-19 (and only slightly higher but still very little risk of even contracting COVID-19) as we begin to return to a more “normal lifestyle” that we haven’t lived since March 2020.

Closer to home, Nevada public health officials indicated during today’s Nevada Health Response press call that their goals are generally in alignment with Biden’s. During today’s call, Karissa Loper, Deputy Bureau Chief for Nevada DHHS’ Bureau of Child, Family, and Community Wellness, confirmed that the state will deploy more “pop-up mobile vaccination centers” in the coming weeks, and that state-supported pharmacy vaccination clinics will offer walk-in’s alongside the federal pharmacy vaccination clinics. For Loper, it really comes down to this: “Go to any place where you can get the vaccine. Get your vaccine as soon as you can.”

Steve Sisolak, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine
Photo provided by the Office of Governor Steve Sisolak

For parents who are eagerly awaiting vaccine shots for their adolescent kids, Loper confirmed that pediatricians and family practitioners will be able to provide vaccine doses, and that, “It will be available as soon as the [CDC’s] final recommendations are made tonight.”

And for anyone out there who’s still confused by Joe Rogan’s recent flame war against Dr. Anthony Fauci over who needs to be vaccinated, Loper made clear that the state’s goal remains vaccinations for anyone and everyone who’s eligible: “[Younger Nevadans] may have less severe impacts, but they are still impacted. It’s important to protect them, and it’s important for the population to protect from future spread.”

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.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for a special edition of “This Week in Corona Scams” tomorrow, where we’ll delve deeper into the dangerous ideology and pseudoscience behind the anti-vaccine movement.

The cover photo was taken by me.

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