By Kayla Anderson
Last week, the Biden administration announced that due to the rise in new Covid cases — most notably from the delta variant — that it was going to take a hard stance on reinstating the mask mandate for those vaccinated and unvaccinated in counties where there is a high Covid-19 transmission rate. Employees at federal agencies will be required to wear masks indoors whether they are vaccinated or not, and if they are not vaccinated then they may have to get a Covid test once or twice a week.
With more than 300 cases of the Covid delta variant recognized in Washoe County, the mask mandate went into effect last Friday, July 30, 2021, (Clark County/Las Vegas also reinstated the mask mandate). The Washoe County Health District reports that Covid cases in the region have been surging; the number of daily new cases tripling from 22.9 on July1 to 68.9 on July28 (data taken from the WCHD Covid-19 7-day moving average dashboard). Hospitalizations remain stable as 63 percent of beds are occupied, 29 patients suspected to have Covid.
Under CDC guidelines, counties are considered to have a high transmission of Covid and are recommended to enforce the mask mandate for all if 10 percent or more of a 100,000-person population comes back with positive Covid test results. Washoe County maintains a 13.34 percent test positivity rate, averaging 66.17 new cases per 100,000 people over a week-long period. On July 26, health officials bumped the “contracting Covid” regional risk meter up to “high”.
Health experts across the country are saying that the delta variant is more contagious than Ebola, spreading in a pace that’s more in line with something like chickenpox. As of July 28, there were 301 cases reported of the delta variant, up from 83 from the week before. There have been four delta variant-related deaths of people who were unvaccinated, and 26 people who were hos- pitalized from contracting the delta variant- a few who were vaccinated. There are currently one hundred peo- ple infected with the delta variant of Covid who have not yet fully recovered.
The Washoe County Health District (and many other health experts) believe that those who receive the Covid-19 vaccine are less likely to become infected or die from Covid-19 and most notably, the delta variant.
“The COVID-19 vaccine has been proven effective against all variants and it’s highly recommended that those who have yet to receive the vaccine do so as soon as possible,” says Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick. “The rise in transmission in Washoe County is attributed solely to those who have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” he adds.
As of August 1, approximately 53.5 percent of Washoe County’s popu- lation ages 12 and older is fully vaccinated (241,020 people).
Many health partners including grocery stores and pharmacies in Reno and Sparks are still offering the Covid vaccine, and the Health District is still accepting appoint- ments to get it at the Reno- Sparks Livestock Events Center and other community sites. For those who are homebound and want the vaccine, you can schedule a nurse to come to your house to administer it by calling 775-328-2427. To find the vaccine site closest to you,
visit https://www.vaccines. gov/.
As kids get ready to go back to school, the Health District also announced that the District and partners Community Health Alliance and Immunize Nevada are hosting two vaccination clinics on August 7 and August 14 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Health District on 1001 E. 9th Street, Building B lobby in Reno. DTap/DT, IPV, MMR and other immunizations will be available for Washoe County students, administered in private rooms inside the clinic. Covid-19 vaccines will be offered for students ages 12 and older. Appointments are encour- aged (call 775-328-2402 to let them know you’re coming); insurance is not required.