Dr. David Obert receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination at University Medical Center in Las Vegas in December. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Additional federal resources to boost Nevada’s vaccination rates and reverse a surge in covid-19 cases will arrive next week, according to state officials.
The announcement was made Thursday as Nevada Health Response, the group set up by the governor to coordinate and disseminate information on covid mitigation efforts, resumed weekly calls to provide the public and media with updates. The weekly calls had ceased on May 26, back when cases were trending downward.
Gov. Steve Sisolak requested federal assistance from “surge response teams” announced by the White House last week. Candice McDaniel, an administrator with the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said Thursday the surge team would assist state and local partners with targeted outreach to unvaccinated people, as well as expanding vaccination and test sites.
Covid-19 hospitalization rates are rising in areas where vaccination rates are the lowest and steady in areas where vaccination rates are highest. Nevada officials called it the latest sign that all three available covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and they urged residents to begin or complete the inoculation process.
Nevada’s 14-day positivity rate currently sits at 8.2%. The increase is being driven by Clark County, where the test positivity rate is 9.2%.
Clark County has also seen a significant increase in the number of covid hospitalizations. State officials said there were 180 confirmed covid hospitalizations in Clark on May 31. As of July 6, there were 422.
Despite the surge in hospitalizations, there has been no spike in deaths.
Officials said Nevada doesn’t have data on how many of those hospitalizations are unvaccinated people, but they pointed to national data from the CDC that suggests upwards of 99% of current covid hospitalizations and deaths are unvaccinated people.
In Clark County, 53% of eligible people have initiated the vaccine process and 44% have completed it.
Some rural counties have even lower vaccination rates and are reporting even higher test positivity rates.
For example, in Storey County, only 17% of eligible residents have begun the vaccination process and only 15% are fully vaccinated. That county currently has a test positivity rate of 18.2%.
Meanwhile, Washoe County and Carson City are leading the state in vaccination rates, with 61% of eligible residents having initiated the vaccination process and 56% having completed it. The region has a much lower case positivity rate (4.6%) and has seen no increase in hospitalizations.
Officials said the state is looking to set up long-term vaccination and testing sites. Vaccines are available at a variety of locations, including neighborhood pharmacies and pop-up clinics being promoted by cities and counties.
McDaniels said “many more programs” are in the pipeline but was mostly scant on specifics.
Thursday also marked the announcement of the first round of “Vax Nevada Day” winners. The state is holding a lottery and giving away $5 million in cash and prizes. Entry into the lottery is automatic for anyone who received a vaccine in Nevada.
Officials hope the promotional event will encourage additional people to get themselves or their 12 to 17-year-olds vaccinated.
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