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Health District notes a flattening curve amid ongoing COVID-19 vaccination

By Sudhiti Naskar

The Washoe County Health District is noting a “sort of a flattening” of the curve of COVID-19 transmission and a “significant decline of a number of new cases” that occurred through December,” said district health officer Kevin Dick on Wednesday during a weekly COVID-19 update in Washoe County.  

The county is reporting 242 new cases per day on a seven-day moving average. This is slightly up from the 220 seven-day average, noted in late December, but not significantly higher, said Dick.  

Dick noted that the New Year holiday could still affect these numbers. . However, the district is hopeful that the number of new cases will continue to decline. 

The “pause” recommended by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak is having some positive impact in Washoe County, said Dick. 

Additionally, testing demands for COVID-19 have gone down. Hospitals still remain busy but not quite as strained as before. 

Dick recommended that it’s very important for everyone to not become complacent and continue wearing masks, maintaining hygiene and social distancing. . 

Vaccination details

Washoe County Health District has received a cumulative total of 22,760 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines as of Wednesday, said Dick. Of those, the community partners working with the district received 11,030 doses.  

Through yesterday, the health district administered a cumulative total of 8,708 vaccine doses. 

Dick explained that the pace of vaccine distribution and administration in Washoe county is on par with the pace at which the district is receiving vaccine. 

The district received its latest shipment on Monday and started dispensing the vaccine from its vaccination POD (point of distribution) at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center on Tuesday. “The vaccine is dispensed as we receive it,” said Dick. 

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 18, the district will provide vaccines through its POD for K-through-12 education staff who will have a day off for the vaccination. The second dose will be dispensed on the President’s Day holiday, Feb. 15. 

Higher morbidity is occurring in older populations prompting health care providers to focus on vaccinating people ages 70 and above. Renown Healthis vaccinating the older population. Willing patients can open up a MyChart account to receive vaccination at Renown. 

Following the governor’s announcement on Nevada’s updated Vaccination Playbook, the county will follow two “lanes” to determine which populations will get vaccinations and when. 

A Washoe County public health nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine.
A Washoe County public health nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine. Image: Eric Marks

UNR School of Medicine publishes report on vaccine desirability

A team of collaborators with Immunize Nevada and the Nevada Department Health of Human Services, launched a series of surveys about a month ago (between Nov. 25 and Dec. 31) to understand communities’ and health care providers’ attitudes and willingness toward receiving the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available. 

Dr. Mark Riddle, Associate Dean of Clinical Research at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lead investigator joined Dick at the briefing and reported about perceptions of the COVID-19 vaccination across populations and demographics in Nevada. 

The survey collected data from 5,000 Nevadans and 1,000 health care providers. 

About 65% of the public said that they would likely get the vaccine. 

Experts suggest that community immunity will require 80-90% of the population to get vaccinated. So, at 65% “we have a good baseline, but we need to increase uptake,” said Riddle. 

The report also noted a “decreasing tendency” or lack of willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine amid African Americans and Hispanics. Rural Nevadans are less willing to get the vaccine than their urban counterparts. 

When asked what people think would help them make a decision to take the vaccine, most referred to safety and efficacy. Riddle said that this is a good scope for the officials to focus on, explaining the efficacy of the vaccines to increase positive perception of them. 

Among health care workers and pharmacists surveyed, 83% said that they would recommend the vaccine to their patients. Some 77% of them said that they would get vaccinated. Physicians constitute the highest rate of vaccine recipients. 

Numbers at-a-glance in Washoe County

According to official report, there will be no data for Jan. 13, 2021

Latest available data is from Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. 

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