KNPR

Titus, Amodei urge caution - not panic - as omicron variant spikes

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Associated Press

Motorists line up for drive-through COVID tests near Miami this week. Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat from Las Vegas, says "we need to up our supplies for testing" as omicron variant infections spike.

With up to 140 million COVID cases projected in the United States over the next 10 weeks, Nevada’s senior congressional members urge caution, not panic.

The seven-day average new of daily cases in Nevada has doubled in a month to about 1,000, with more than 1,400 daily cases repolrted going into the Christmas weekend. 

Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican who represents Northern Nevada, told KNPR News that he’s confident the state’s healthcare system can withstand the omicron spike, even after almost two full years of the pandemic.

“We've got some pretty good professionals, which is actually one of the untold stories,” Amodei told KNPR News, adding that regular citizens have also learned to live their lives in the shadow of COVID-19.

“I think we're a little bit smarter than we were a year ago, just based from based on being attending more classes in the school of hard knocks, if you will,” said Amodei, first elected to Congress in 2011 and the only Republican in Nevada’s congressional delegation.

Rep. Dina Titus, the state’s senior congressional Democrat, said people can safely come to Las Vegas, which is preparing for New Year’s Eve and the Consumer Electronics Show, which draw hundreds of thousands of people to Southern Nevada.

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“If you wear a mask and you've been vaccinated — and that is the key — and by vaccinated, I mean two shots plus a booster, then you're you're gonna be OK,” Titus said, “but yes, it does make those big conventions more difficult to navigate.”

Titus made her comments before several high-tech companies announced their departure from CES, the year's biggest trade show for Las Vegas.

The lawmakers differed on whether President Joe Biden adequately addressed the omicron challenge in his speech on Tuesday.

“I appreciate the fact that he's using the office of the presidency to try to assist and message in management,” Amodei said, “But I was looking for a lot more information on therapeutics, and I didn't see a lot of that.

“I'm just looking for context, instead of, ‘Oh, my God, there’s 130,000 new cases in the last 24 hours,’ OK, tell me what kind of cases they are, because we know now, especially if you're vaccinated, that there's more detail than just you're infected.”

Titus said Biden did a good job staking out the big picture as Nevada closes in on 8,500 people killed by the coronavirus.

“The president has two roles,” she said. “One is to make consoler in chief, and that's to keep people from panicking and reassure him that we have everything under control. And second is to lay out a plan. And I think he did that very effectively.”

She said she would have like to have heard more on how the president plans to address the current shortage of testing.

“The one area where we'd like to see more is that testing,” Titus said. “Now that omicron is so pervasive, and it seems to be so contagious, I think we need to up our supplies for testing and be sure people have access to it.

“If you go to a drugstore now to get a home testing kit, you have to stand in line for a long time, or else they've already sold out.”

Titus did say that with proper precautions — she stressed vaccinations and boosters — Las Vegans can enjoy the holidays and tourists can safely visit.

“We've made it this far, let's don't do something stupid now,” she said. “Let's continue the advice of social distancing, continue to wear a mask, get that vaccination, and hopefully we'll be back to the new normal in 2022.”

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