LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As L.A. County asked its residents to avoid Nevada travel due to rising COVID-19 numbers, 8 News Now spoke with visitors and a local expert Thursday about what this means for the future.

After months of downward trends, COVID-19 is once again on the rise, as groups gather with fewer masks and vaccination rates remain below the national average. 

“There are more people not wearing masks than are wearing masks,” Las Vegas visitor Marcus Ward told 8 News Now. “And you know a lot of those people still aren’t vaccinated.”

8 News Now asked Las Vegas visitors for reactions to the uptick, and their answers were mixed. 

“You’ve got to be cautious these days,” visitor Roidrick Scott said. “And be safe.”

“I think we live our lives within reason,” visitor Mindy Ward said conversely. “But normally.”

However, as our positivity rate climbs well above 10%, UNLV Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine Dean Dr. Marc J. Kahn said we shouldn’t ignore these changes. 

“People are starting to let down their guard and get together,” Dr. Kahn said. “And the group that’s most concerning is the unvaccinated.”

He added that 99.8% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 here in Nevada are not vaccinated. 

“Because the vaccination rate among older people, especially here in Nevada, is much higher than younger people,” Dr. Kahn explained. “We are starting to see a switch of who gets admitted to the hospital, and now it’s younger people, again, who have not been vaccinated.”

He said the solution is simple; immunization will stop this virus from spreading while allowing us all to enjoy the city we know and love safely. 

“Why would you not want to be vaccinated?” Las Vegas visitor Maira Buenrostro asked. “Why would you not want to be safe, protect yourself, protect others?”

“Please get vaccinated,” Scott concluded. “Also, wear your mask”

As of Thursday, there are no plans to reinstate mask mandates here in Nevada, though masks are recommended for anyone not vaccinated. 

The state’s health department reported 46% of those eligible in Nevada as fully vaccinated Thursday, which is below the national average. 

Dr. Kahn told 8 News Now because many have been immunized already, it is unlikely our numbers will ever get as high as they were before vaccine rollouts.