Nevada seeks federal help as COVID-19 cases rise, Delta variant spreads

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada is asking for federal assistance as it steps up efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said on Thursday the state needs help to stop the increasing trend in COVID-19 cases, the increase in Delta variant cases and the “stagnation” of vaccinations in Clark County.

The request for federal help comes as Nevada’s test positivity increased this week to 5.8% just seven days after it had been at 4.3% in daily updates on NVhealthresponse.nv.gov website.

A report from UNR shows that the Delta variant has become the most common form of the virus detected in tests over the two-week period that ended June 25. The Delta variant is characterized as far more contagious than previous variants.

Hospitalizations have increased in the state, doubling in June. The number of patients hospitalized over the past two weeks has gone from 266 to 424.

The White House announced their intention to create “surge teams” on Thursday and state officials are working with federal agencies to request more support to spur vaccinations in Southern Nevada. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is spearheading federal efforts.

“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,” Sisolak said.

“My office is working around-the-clock with state agencies and local partners to coordinate robust vaccination efforts, including but not limited to standing up more vaccination and testing sites, organizing Get-Out-The-Vaccine activities throughout the Valley, and developing a workplace vaccination program. This additional support from our Federal partners is necessary to assist in our outreach efforts and help meet the needs of Southern Nevada’s communities.”

Governor Sisolak’s chief of staff, Michelle White explains how the money will be used.

“We are going to be tripling down on efforts to increase vaccination sites specifically in the valleys, targeting high transmission areas,” Chief of Staff White said.

With the help of FEMA, there could be an additional 6-10 vaccination clinics.

“We need to increase confidence some are taking the wait and see approach to see what happens that time is here we can see what happens and what we are seeing is those vaccinated are protected,” Chief of Staff White said.

Dr. Fermin Leguen with the Southern Nevada Health District says with these increased cases, there are also increased hospitalizations.

“We saw the last 90 days, 95 percent of the cases are people who aren’t vaccinated,” Dr. Fermin Leguen said.

Currently, 53% of Nevadans have gotten at least one dose– but Dr. Vikas Sayal — a pulmonologist with Saint Rose Sienna, says we have a long way to go until COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

“As long as we can do up to 70% we should be at a good target and the rest is a bonus,” said Dr. Vikas Sayal.

Dr. Sayal says testing is just as important as getting vaccinated.

Those additional vaccine sites will also serve as testing centers, which will only be made possible with FEMA staffing them.

The state is currently “implementing an interagency effort targeting Southern Nevada to deploy mobile vaccine units, set up new testing and vaccination sites, and increase community outreach and education efforts,” according to a Thursday news release.

Announcements on new vaccination sites and additional efforts will continue to be released as they are confirmed.

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