Nevada seeks federal assistance amidst surge of COVID-19 Delta variant, drop in vaccinations

Nevada seeks federal assistance amidst surge of COVID-19 Delta variant, drop in vaccinations
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CARSON CITY – The White House on Thursday said it is deploying “surge teams” to hot spots throughout the country to assist local authorities in tackling challenges posed by increasing cases of COVID-19 and declining vaccination rates. Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a short time later he would be asking for that federal support targeting a COVID-19 spike in Clark County.

Earlier this week the governor and immunization officials said they were redoubling their “Get Out the Vaccine” efforts. The 7-day rolling average of new cases in Clark County was on the decline, but began to rise again in June, recently peaking at just over 281 cases on June 28. The governor’s office reported Thursday that Nevada’s statewide 14-day test positivity rate is 5.8% and hospitalizations have increased over the past two weeks.

Health officials say the increase in COVID-19 cases is largely being driven by the Delta variant, which is extremely contagious. According to the Nevada State Public Health Lab (NSPHL), among samples collected throughout June, the Delta variant was the most common. NSPHL reported 39% of samples sequenced during the month were the Delta variant while 34% were the B.1.1.7, the Alpha variant, that originated in the United Kingdom.

On Thursday when announcing Washoe County’s first COVID-19 death from the Delta variant, health district officials said most of the Delta variant cases are occurring in unvaccinated individuals. They also reported that all of the hospitalized cases have been unvaccinated.

Southern Nevada Health District reports that as of June 30 a little more than 40% of eligible residents in Clark County have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and just 49% has initiated vaccination.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at reducing the severity of cases, hospitalization and deaths and we must continue to leverage resources at the federal, state and local level to increase access and confidence and get as many Nevadans protected from this deadly virus as possible,” said Gov. Sisolak. 

Earlier this week, Gov. Sisolak announced an increase in mobile vaccination units and work to increase the number of health care providers who can receive and administer the vaccine. On Thursday he also said a workplace vaccination program is in development.