Undercurrent

Clark County commissioners consider voluntary vaccine disclosure for workers

By: - August 3, 2021 5:22 pm

(Photo by Jimmy Emerson via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Clark County government employees who don’t voluntarily disclose they’ve received a coronavirus vaccination could be required to obtain weekly tests on their own time, should commissioners vote later this month on a proposal designed to increase the vaccination rate.

The proposal is the result of emergency meetings between county management and employee unions. It would exclude part-time workers and impose progressive discipline laid out in union contracts on those who fail to comply.

The move would align Clark County with other public agencies in Nevada and across the country. Nevada’s state employees will soon be required to submit proof of vaccination or be tested weekly, a decision that was announced last week during the state’s weekly covid-19 update. Clark County School District has also announced its employees will be required to submit proof of vaccination or undergo mandatory weekly testing.

According to the state’s covid data dashboard, 48% of eligible people in Nevada are fully vaccinated; 58% of eligible people have initiated vaccination.

“We’re at 18.6%,” Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said of the COVID positivity rate in the valley.

University Medical Center CEO Mason VanHouweling, the president-elect of the Nevada Hospital Association, told commissioners hospitals are operating at levels exceeding their licensed bed count.

The meeting was punctuated by outbursts from angry residents decrying a number of perceived ills — masks for children, masks mandates for the public, vaccination mandates, the role of extended unemployment benefits in the labor shortage, abortion and the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Commissioner Tick Segerblom said “at the end of the day” getting people vaccinated is what matters. His proposal to pay the unvaccinated $100 to get the shot drew mixed reactions and questions from his colleagues.

“Tick is always working it,” said Commissioner Jim Gibson.

“Throwing spaghetti at the wall,” Kirkpatrick interjected.  

Commissioner Justin Jones cited a recent New York Times story that found a $100 payment appeals to only 14% of the unvaccinated population.  

“… our objective is that we don’t have a failure in this economy,” said Gibson, who sits on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Board of Directors. “We know firsthand the concerns that exist in the minds of the conventioneers. This city will not stay open if we lose our biggest conventions.”

Added Kirkpatrick, “Other jurisdictions, businesses, trade shows, are looking to what we do today.”

“Whatever we do has to keep us alive, has to keep us open so that we have something left after this…” said Gibson. “It’s not going to work if in the rear view mirror there are no lights on in this valley.”

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.

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