COVID-19 infections spike in Nevada, mostly in the south

COVID-19 infections spike in Nevada, mostly in the south
A mock-up of the COVID vaccine. Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

By Jeri Chadwell, This Is Reno

CARSON CITY–State health officials are warning that COVID-19 cases are again spiking in the state.

The test positivity rate statewide has risen to 8.2% for a 14-day average. Nevada Health Response officials said the majority of new cases are centered in Clark County.

Candice McDaniel, deputy administrator of the Department of Health and Human Service’s Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, pointed toward heat driving people indoors, increased travel and tourism, and low vaccination rates in the southern part of the state as the primary causes of the spike in cases.

She said 59% of new cases statewide are now the more transmissible Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Hospitalizations have increased dramatically since the end of May, when 180 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide. As of July 6, there were 422 people hospitalized with the virus.

McDaniel said the vast majority of those hospitalized have been unvaccinated. She noted also that, nationwide, 99% of COVID-19-related deaths have been among the unvaccinated.

Health officials are asking those who’ve only received one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to go in for their second shot. They said it does not matter if an individual is receiving the second dose outside of the prescribed three- or four-week period. Those who’ve only received one dose and neglect to get a second may be helping the Delta variant spread, they said.

COVID-19 rates across the state are also reflected in vaccination rates. Statewide, a total of more than 2.5 million first and second doses have been administered. Washoe County and Carson City are leading the state in the rate of partially and fully vaccinated individuals. The percentage of the population 12 and older in each locale who are fully vaccinated is 56%.

In Clark County, 53% of people 12 and older have initiated their COVID-19 vaccination, and 44% are fully vaccinated. 

The situation is more dire in Nevada’s 14 most rural counties. An average of only 37% of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated. This and low testing rates have led to high test positivity in many of those counties. The test positivity rate in Elko County has reached 17%.

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced last week that the state would be requesting assistance from the federal government to increase vaccination rates. Health officials are also launching more mobile vaccination units and a workplace vaccination program to reach individuals who’ve yet to receive their shot. 

Amid the rising case numbers, health officials are asking Nevada residents and visitors to keep their guard up. Stagnating vaccination rates and unvaccinated individuals failing to heed mask requirements are exacerbating the situation.Individuals who are interested in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in Washoe County can start here for more information.