By Kayla Anderson
It’s a new year, and while the country is still very much affected by the pandemic the promise of new stimulus checks, federal financial aid, and a widely distributed vaccine is on the horizon. However, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Nevada has been slow, and there has been much confusion on who can receive it and when. According to the State of Nevada’s COVID-19 Vaccine Playbook, the shot is currently being offered to those in its Tier 1 group which is basically healthcare workers, nursing home staff, law enforcement officers, and other critical infrastructure personnel.
Roadway workers, prison inmates, essential retail workers, higher education faculty, and food processing plants were originally a part of the Tier 2 group, but Governor Steve Sisolak recently announced that adults ages 75 and older were added into the Tier 2. This created an onslaught of calls from the older population into their local health districts to try to figure out how to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, Washoe County is still in the process of vaccinating people in the Tier 1 group and once that is completed it will transition to inoculating those in Tier 2. People have been showing up to the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center unannounced to get the vaccine and have had to be turned away, taking essential healthcare workers away from their primary duties.
“We appreciate people being eager and excited to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible,” says Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick. “New information is flowing into us by the hour and we’re working long hours and weekends to be able to distribute it to more than 470,000 people in Washoe County. We ask the general public for patience at this time as we work with local, state and federal partners on this enormous logistical challenge ahead of us,” he adds.
For those in the Tier 1 group who have an appointment to receive the vaccine, the Health District would like to remind them to bring their ID and proof of employment.
The Health District further stated that when it’s time to vaccinate the Tier 2 group, many of the essential worker groups relayed in the Playbook guidance will be notified first.
The Current COVID-19 Numbers in Sparks/Spanish Springs; Statewide “Pause” In Effect Through Jan. 15
As of January 3, there have been 36,490 cases in Washoe County and 505 deaths. The 500th COVID-19 related death was on January 3 (an increase of 100 deaths since December 18). Governor Sisolak has extended the Stay Home 2.0 “pause” through January 15. Here are the totals of positive COVID-19 cases in Sparks and Spanish Springs broken down by zip code:
Zip code 89431- 3,596 total cases
89434- 2,002 cases
89436- 2,924 cases
89441- 755 cases
There have been more than 303,000 COVID-19 tests performed in Washoe County and 85 percent of hospital beds are occupied. The Health District is still looking for medical professional volunteers and urging residents to download the COVID-19 Trace app, promising that it does not compromise privacy. For more information about downloading the app, visit https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/covidtrace/.
Washoe County Libraries Are Closed Through January 19
In response to increasing COVID-19 rates, the Washoe County Library System has suspended hold pickup services until January 19 at the earliest. Book drops are still open, and the digital library/online events are still available; visit https://washoecountylibrary.us/about/reopening_plan.php for information.
“As fall turned to winter and COVID-19 numbers rose again in our community, we recognized the importance of supporting efforts to limit community spread in our region. With hold pickup service temporarily suspended, many Washoe County Library staff are assisting the school district with contact tracing, while maintaining virtual services and working to prepare our libraries for a safe reopening,” says Washoe County Library Director Jeff Scott.
Middle and High School Students Don’t Go Back to School Until January 19
Many students have been on winter break, but with the rise in COVID-19 cases within the community the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees voted to suspend in-person learning for secondary and high school students at least through January 19 (decided at its December 8 meeting). As of December 31, the WCSD reported that there’ve been a total of 234 student cases and 206 staff cases impacting 94 schools. According to the Truckee Meadows COVID-19 Risk Meter (which uses trends to estimate the current threat posed by COVID-19), this week’s rating score of 10.5 is deemed “Very High”, just one step down from “Severe”. To read about next week’s prediction, visit https://covidriskmeter.org/.