Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) and Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick just held a press conference to update constituents on federal, state, and local efforts to expand Nevadans’ access to the COVID-19 vaccines.
TL/DR: We can expect further expansion of COVID-19 vaccine access, but there’s much more to do to get more shots into more arms more quickly.
“We need to increase their capacity to vaccinate as many people as possible.”
– Rep. Steven Horsford
As we examined yesterday after hearing from President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Response Team and state health officials, the Biden administration’s new COVID-19 strategy is already beginning to change the trajectory of America’s vaccination efforts. Or as Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick summarized, “The system is working better now. It’s always rocky at the beginning.”
She and Rep. Steven Horsford had just visited two of Clark County’s vaccination centers: Canyon Springs High School in North Las Vegas, and Cashman Center just north of Downtown Las Vegas. Both praised the staff who are working to process as many people as they can, and both were pleased with the Biden administration’s new deployment of FEMA resources to assist state and local health authorities with vaccinations. As Horsford assessed, “I feel reassured in the system, the competence, the care they are providing.”
Still, Horsford also declared that his colleagues in Congress must get working soon to provide even more resources to speed up America’s journey to herd immunity. According to Horsford, “We need to increase their capacity to vaccinate as many people as possible. […] We need to get our local partners all the help they need to streamline this vaccination process.”
“We need answers on why Nevada falls so low on the list of vaccinations per 100,000.”
– Rep. Steven Horsford
To recap what we’ve already been learning this week and what we learned during today’s call: Nevada and all other states are getting a 16% raise in vaccine allocation. Horsford more specifically noted that for the next three weeks, Nevada will get a 5,800 dose boost in Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Unused vaccine doses in the long-term care facility pool will be redirected to the general population pool. And going forward, FEMA will help state and local officials with the overall vaccination program, assisting public schools reopen more safely, assisting Southern Nevada’s Paiute tribal communities with vaccinations, and deploying more mobile vaccination clinics throughout Clark County.
In contrast to Nevada state officials’ more cautious language in assessing the Biden administration’s plan to scale up FEMA’s relief efforts to open more federally backed community vaccination centers, Horsford and Kirkpatrick voiced clearer support. Horsford also noted that he and Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) recently met with the White House’s COVID-19 Response Team to brief them on what else Nevada needs to survive this pandemic.
In response to Governor Steve Sisolak’s (D) demand for even higher vaccine allocation in order to rectify Nevada’s near-bottom-in-the-nation status in overall vaccinations per capita, Horsford concurred, “We need answers on why Nevada falls so low on the list of vaccinations per 100,000.” Horsford then said that he and Titus asked the White House’s COVID-19 Response Team to fix the federal government’s formula for vaccine allocation. As Horsford explained, “The formula is based on population. It’s based on the  Census.”
“We’re not going to wait and have our constituents held hostage when they are in desperate need.”
– Rep. Steven Horsford
As we’ve repeatedly explained on these pages, the federal government almost certainly needs to provide another round of “stimulus” in order to fix the nation’s overall COVID-19 response efforts, speed up vaccine delivery, and prevent a “double-dip recession” from materializing. During today’s call, Horsford promised that he will use his position on the House’s Budget and Ways & Means committees to get a relief package passed as soon as possible.
Like U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) did during her own press call last week, Horsford said he prefers some kind of bipartisan agreement on a new relief package. However, Horsford also declared, “Congress has to approve President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. We are exploring every possible avenue to get a COVID relief package approved.”
As House and Senate Democratic leaders appear to be moving towards the same page on utilizing the budget reconciliation process to prevent Republicans from filibustering Biden’s Rescue Plan indefinitely, Horsford indicated that he’s ready to go: “We’re not going to wait and have our constituents held hostage when they are in desperate need.” And as Horsford noted several American Rescue Plan provisions, such as $20 billion for the national vaccination program and another round of aid for K-12 schools, Horsford said, “We can’t open the economy without safe schools, and we can’t get safe schools without more funding.”
“We have set up this week a soft opening of our new call center. […] It is a 1-800 number where people can call in and make appointments.”
– Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick
While the State of Nevada and Clark County await further federal aid, Kirkpatrick indicated that Clark County will continue to utilize all the resources that are currently available to expand vaccine access. Or as Kirkpatrick put it, “I look forward to being able to scale up. We want to have the capacity so we can be ready.”
Now that more Nevada seniors have priority access to COVID-19 vaccinations, Kirkpatrick said that Clark County is working with community senior centers to notify more residents on upcoming vaccination dates. And going forward, Clark County will open a hotline for people with limited internet access to set up their vaccine appointments: “We have set up this week a soft opening of our new call center. It is county specific. It is a 1-800 number where people can call in and make appointments.”
If you have further questions about COVID-19 and your health, check with Nevada Health Response on testing in your area, check with Immunize Nevada for more information on vaccine availability in your area, and check with 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.