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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.

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Sisolak Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility to All Nevadans Aged 16+ Starting April 5

Tonight, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) updated Nevadans on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine strategy… And he gave us two new dates to mark on our calendars.

On March 22, all Nevadans aged 16+ with underlying medical conditions will become eligible for vaccination at select sites. And starting April 5, all Nevadans aged 16+ will become eligible for vaccination. (Period.)

“Mr. President: Challenge accepted. On April 5, all Nevada adults will be eligible.”
– Governor Steve Sisolak, on the state’s new timeline to expand COVID-19 vaccine access
Steve Sisolak, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine
Photo provided by the Office of Governor Steve Sisolak

During today’s White House COVID-19 Briefing, White House Senior Advisor for COVID-19 Response Andy Slavitt announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially directed all state health authorities to prepare to open up vaccinations to all adults by May 1. This is part of the Biden administration’s “Help Is Here” messaging strategy to highlight the American Rescue Plan, show Americans that President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 response strategy is working, and actually deliver noticeable results.

Earlier this week, Governor Steve Sisolak’s COVID-19 Response Team declined to commit to Biden’s May 1 deadline to make all adults eligible for vaccination. But in his press conference tonight, Sisolak responded, “Mr. President: Challenge accepted. On April 5, all Nevada adults will be eligible.”

Sisolak went on to stress, “The availability of vaccines and doses will depend on the doses we receive from the federal government.” But as long as Biden continues to live up to his promise to continue delivering more vaccine doses to state authorities and more directly to local communities (through programs like community vaccination centers and pharmacy clinics), Sisolak indicated that universal vaccine access for Nevada adults will finally become our reality in a matter of weeks.

“We’re working to bring the vaccines to people wherever they are.” 
– Governor Steve Sisolak

Last week, Sisolak himself got vaccinated at a Las Vegas Albertson’s alongside local grocery store workers. As reports continue to trickle in on some Nevadans “shopping around” for certain vaccines over others, “Please take whichever vaccine is available. The President took Pfizer. The Vice President took Moderna. I took Johnson & Johnson. They all work.” (Editor’s Note: Stay tuned tomorrow for a special edition “This Week in Corona Scams” featuring more details on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine!) 

Starting March 22, COVID-19 vaccines will become available to all Nevadans aged 16+ with underlying health conditions through the retail pharmacy program. Then on April 5, vaccine eligibility opens up to all Nevadans aged 16+. Throughout the program, Sisolak stressed, “As soon as you are eligible, make the appointment. Get your vaccine.”

Sisolak also promised that Nevadans will be able to get vaccinated regardless of where they live and which modes of transportation they use. Building on his health advisors’ prior indications that the state will work with the Biden administration to open more community vaccination centers and mobile vaccination units, Sisolak said tonight, “Not everyone has access to a car. Not everyone is on a bus route. We’re working to bring the vaccines to people wherever they are. […] We’re taking them into communities to ensure that everyone is protected.”

“I think our future is looking good. We’re making incredible progress.” 
– Governor Steve Sisolak
Steve Sisolak, COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccine, vaccine
Photo provided by the Office of Governor Steve Sisolak

In a more upbeat tone, Sisolak indicated that as vaccinations ramp up, “I think our future is looking good. We’re making incredible progress.”

Though he declined to take questions at this press conference on any pending legislation at the Nevada Legislature, Sisolak must be feeling better about the $2.9 billion that he and Legislature will soon receive from the American Rescue Plan to clean up the state budget, the $1.2 billion that local governments will receive in Rescue Plan funding, the health care support that Nevadans will soon be receiving through various new and expanded programs, and so many more benefits from the Rescue Plan that can’t come at a more opportune time than now.

Going forward, Sisolak declared, “Businesses will come back. The economy will come back. You’re already starting to see that we’re coming back strong. In the meantime, we need to take care of each other.” 

And despite the CDC’s continuing recommendation against unnecessary travel while we make our way to herd immunity through vaccinations, Sisolak again declared, “I’ve said it before and I want to repeat it here again today: Nevada will be the safest place to have a convention or come and visit. It will be safe for the tourists and business travelers; it will be safe for employees and their families.”

Finally, tonight’s Nevada COVID-19 check-up: Infection rates begin to retreat again, but hospitalizations are ticking upward again.

According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has slipped a little to 1.02, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will lead to another 102 new infections, and statewide we’re seeing 13.9 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 per day. Elko (0.60), Carson City (0.69), Churchill (0.71), Humboldt (0.78), Nye (0.79), Douglas (0.82), Lyon (0.82), and White Pine (0.99) Counties all have infection rates under 1.00, while Washoe (1.01), Clark (1.04), Lander (1.40!!!) and Lincoln (1.49!!!!) Counties are all suffering more rapid spread. White Pine (1.5), Churchill (4.0), Elko (6.2), Carson City (7.9), Lincoln (8.3), Nye (8.3), Lyon (8.4), Washoe (8.6), Douglas (9.9), Storey (10.4), and Clark (16.1) 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 seems to be settling just above 15% this week. These figures remain well above the World Health Organization’s recommended 5% test positivity benchmark for safe reopening

Joe Biden, White House, White House COVID-19 Response Team, COVID-19
Screenshot by Andrew Davey

Following the recent uptick in infections, Nevada hospitals are reporting a slight rebound in COVID-19 hospitalizations. According to Nevada Health Response, our hospitals are treating 252 confirmed COVID-19 patients and an additional 66 patients who probably have COVID-19, for a total of 318 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalized patients. 

Nevada public health officials are reporting a total of 5,147 confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of mid-day today. We continue to average 11-12 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, 1,302,310 total doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered to Nevada, and 1,034,347 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered and recorded. 651,736 have received at least one vaccine dose, meaning an estimated 21.2% of Nevadans have at least initiated the vaccination process, and 370,823 second doses have been administered, meaning an estimated 12% of Nevadans are fully vaccinated.

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 was provided by the Office of Governor Steve Sisolak.

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