COVID-19 continues to spread in Nevada and throughout America, and we continue to monitor potential warning signs of a “fourth wave” of increasing infections. In more clear-cut news, America’s and Nevada’s COVID-19 vaccination stats continue to improve as Vice President Kamala Harris visits Nevada to hail Congress’ passage of the American Rescue Plan.
Here’s the latest on the state of the pandemic, nationally and here at home.
Today’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Infection rates reenter “the danger zone” in Nevada’s most populous counties.
According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has surged past the critical 1.00 benchmark for the first time in two months to 1.05, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 105 new infections, and statewide we’re seeing 14.2 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Elko (0.65), Churchill (0.71), Carson City (0.72), Nye (0.77), Douglas (0.80), Lyon (0.81), Humboldt (0.82), and White Pine (0.88) Counties all have infection rates under 1.00, while Washoe (1.01), Clark (1.07), Lander (1.26!!!) and Lincoln (1.65!!!!) Counties are all suffering more rapid spread. White Pine (1.5), Humboldt (3.4), Churchill (4.0), Elko (6.2), Storey (6.9), Lyon (7.0), Carson City (7.9), Douglas (7.9), Nye (8.0), Washoe (8.8), and Clark (16.5) Counties 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 remains at 20.7% (according to the Indy’s calculation of “new positives as a percent of new people tested each day”), and our seven-day average continues is once again just over 15% after a brief spike last week. These figures remain well above the World Health Organization’s recommended 5% test positivity benchmark for safe reopening.
Help a senior get their COVID-19 vaccine by finding their county’s vaccine info at https://t.co/obS7xMpV06 or by calling 1-800-401-0946. Check to see if they need a follow-up appointment. If there is a clinic available, help them get to it — You might save a life. #NVCOVIDfighter pic.twitter.com/p9ggL3VhP0
— @NVHealthResponse (@NVHealthRespon1) March 10, 2021
Despite the recent uptick in infections, so far Nevada hospitals are not experiencing a rebound in COVID-19 hospitalizations. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 241 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 64 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 305 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients.
Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 5,121 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today. So far we continue to average around 12 daily deaths, but keep in mind that the death rate tends to be a lagging indicator. According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Data Tracker, 1,169,770 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 1,013,085 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 640,086 first doses have been administered thus far, meaning an estimated 20.8% of Nevadans have initiated the vaccination process, and 360,316 second doses have been administered, meaning an estimated 11.7% of Nevadans are fully vaccinated.
“Our resorts have worked extremely hard to ensure the safety of our visitors.”
– Caleb Cage, Nevada Health Response
Last month, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) laid out a new “Roadmap to Recovery”. Today, we officially enter the next step in this roadmap: The vast majority of businesses and social activities can resume at up to 50% of official fire code capacity, and larger gatherings can resume at up to 50% of official fire code capacity or 250 people (whichever amounts to fewer people). In addition, even larger events like conferences and conventions may be allowed at up to 50% capacity if they submit a plan that the Nevada Department of Business and Industry (B&I) approves.
Yet as the state ramps up its reopening schedule and encourages more tourism, federal officials stressed caution during today’s White House COVID-19 Briefing. More specifically, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky expressed concern over the recent spike in airport traffic and urged Americans to avoid unnecessary travel in order to prevent a worsening “fourth wave” on par with Europe’s most recent resurgence in infections: “I’m pleading with you for the sake of our nation’s health. These are warning signs.”
Yet during today’s Nevada Health Response press call, Nevada COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage said it’s safe for tourists: “Our resorts have worked extremely hard to ensure the safety of our visitors.” He also said that state authorities are working with local health authorities to prepare them to take over primary health safety responsibilities on May 1, and that the state will maintain statewide mask and social distancing mandates after May 1.
In better news, America’s and Nevada’s vaccination stats continue to steadily improve. Reiterating President Joe Biden’s announcements following his signing of the American Rescue Plan into law last Thursday, White House Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Andy Slavitt reiterated the Biden administration’s new target of all American adults becoming eligible for vaccination by May 1. Slavitt also said, “By the Fourth of July, we may be able to take the really important steps of returning to our [pre-pandemic ‘normal’] lives.”
After a brief downtick in average daily vaccinations following last month’s Texas blizzard, U.S. average daily vaccinations are on the rise again. As of this morning, we’re averaging 2.4 million daily, which is about 2.5 times the amount America was doing when Biden was inaugurated. And now that the American Rescue Plan is law, Slavitt promised even more federal investment in vaccine distribution and administration, including the doubling of Medicare’s COVID-19 vaccine reimbursement rate from $20 per shot to $40 per shot and a 100% Medicaid FMAP for vaccination costs in order to incentivize more health care providers and state governments (in the case of Medicaid) to put in the effort to get more Americans vaccinated.
“Having enough vaccines available for everyone by May doesn’t mean having everyone vaccinated by May.”
– Caleb Cage, Nevada Health Response
— Sabrina Singh (@SabrinaSingh46) March 15, 2021
As I’m writing this, Vice President Kamala Harris is visiting Southern Nevada as part of the White House’s multi-state effort to boost public awareness of (and maintain strong public support for) the American Rescue Plan that’s now law. Harris went with Governor Steve Sisolak (D) to tour UNLV’s vaccine clinic. And during today’s Nevada Health Response call, Candice McDaniel, Nevada DHHS’ Chief of the Bureau of Child, Family, and Community Wellness, confirmed that the state is seeking to take fuller advantage of the Biden administration’s move to make more community health centers into local vaccination centers.
As McDaniel put it, “Several Nevada health centers have been invited to the program. We look forward to more health centers being able to administer vaccines.” But when asked whether the state has developed a plan yet to meet Biden’s goal of having all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1, Cage and McDaniel demurred.
Or as Cage put it, “Having enough vaccines available for everyone by May doesn’t mean having everyone vaccinated by May. […] The tier system is in place to manage scarce resources. The less scarce this resource is, the less of a need we have for these tiers.”
So when can we all “get the jab”?
Nevada is following a statewide playbook, but counties enter tiers at different time based on vaccine allocation and population. See the playbook here:https://t.co/EYtu81AGrR#InThisTogetherNV #StayHealthyNevadans #StayHealthyNV
— @NVHealthResponse (@NVHealthRespon1) March 13, 2021
Though state officials are still being elusive on committing to the Biden administration’s increasingly firmer vaccination goals, they are still showing progress in getting more doses out the door, and they are gradually expanding eligibility. Last week the state approved Southern Nevada Health District’s decision to expand vaccine eligibility to more food service and hospitality workers, and more Nevadans aged 55+ with underlying medical conditions will become eligible throughout the state.
Both Cage and McDaniel stressed that all Nevadans continue to check with Immunize Nevada and their local health authorities to get the latest updates on when they’ll become eligible for vaccination. And for Nevadans with limited internet availability, they can call the state’s hotline at 1-800-401-0946 from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM seven days a week for live assistance.
If you have further questions about COVID-19 and your health, check Nevada Health Response on testing in your area, check Immunize Nevada for more information on vaccine availability 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.