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Are Vaccinations Keeping COVID-19 Infection Numbers Down In Nevada?


(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In this Feb. 17, 2021, file photo, a man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Las Vegas.

As COVID-19 cases surge across the northern and eastern part of the country, Nevada’s numbers look good in comparison. 

Even after months of declining case numbers have turned into a slight uptick this week, Nevada’s positivity numbers are still below 5 percent. 

And the percentage in Clark County is actually lower than that of the less-populated Washoe and Humbolt counties.

Meanwhile, vaccination numbers continue to rise, especially now that anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible. 

Jeff Quinn, the manager of the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Southern Nevada Health District, credited Nevadans for the improvement in infection numbers.

He said everyone's persistence in getting tested and vaccinated has helped.

With that said, he is concerned about the rise in cases in other places.

“Pretty much anything that is occurring in other states and around the world has the potential to change our numbers here," Quinn said, "So really, it’s an important reminder about the importance of testing and mitigation measures that we must continue to take.”

Quinn knows that people are getting tired of the restrictions put in place to mitigate the spread, but he said the threat of the virus is still real, meaning it is still important to wear a mask, stay socially distanced and wash your hands frequently.
He said the vaccine is helping bring the infection numbers down, “but really, we need to stay vigilant and continue to wear our masks.”
As for the people who have already been vaccinated, Quinn noted they can still spread the disease and they can still get the virus; however, the vaccine helps protect them from a serious illness.
"The vaccination gives you your best chance for reducing the likelihood that you'll need to see services at a hospital or have negative outcomes related to it," he said.
Plus, the more people are vaccinated the closer we get to herd immunity, which gets us closer to returning to normalcy.
University Medical Center has not only treated patients with COVID-19, it has been out front in setting up both testing and vaccine clinics.
UMC CEO Mason Van Houweling told KNPR's State of Nevada that the hospital would be giving out its 50,000th vaccine dose on Thursday. He said there are still open appointments for people looking to get the jab.
"When the Johnson & Johnson product was introduced, we did see appointments fill up, [and] renewed interest in the vaccine," he said, "I think people were looking for that one-shot solution."
Van Houweling said the Pfizer vaccine is available for people 16 years and older and the Johnson & Johnson is available for people 18 years and older.
During the height of the spike during the winter, Van Houweling said the hospital had some "dicey" moments with capacity. 
Now, things have improved dramatically, he said.
"Currently, in Southern Nevada, the hospitals are about 75 occupied, but happy to report less than 8 percent of those beds that are occupied are with COVID patients," he said, "Even a better story, on the ICU beds... that was the big concern and the main barometer for the state and how we were looking for reopening. In the ICU, we're about 73 percent occupied with around 6 percent COVID."
Van Houweling said about 2 percent of the ventilators are being used on COVID patients. 

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Mason Van Houweling, CEO, University Medical Center; Jeff Quinn, Office of Public Health Preparedness Manager, Southern Nevada Health District 


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KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada