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County still encouraging seniors to get vaccinated, U.S. reaches 500,000 COVID-19 deaths

By Bob Conrad

Washoe County health officials are still encouraging people 70 and older — about 10,000 seniors — to get vaccinated.

“We are going to concentrate really hard the remainder of this week to reach out to the rest of the 70-plus community in Washoe County,” said Jim English with the Washoe County Health District. “That’ll give us the due diligence to then move down into the next essential workforce group late into next week.”

The county has been getting more vaccines to accommodate seniors waiting to get vaccinated.

“Reaching out to the senior population is absolutely critical,” said Health District Public Information Officer Scott Oxarart. “And we just continue to ask for people’s help in terms of if you have a neighbor, a friend or family member who is senior to help them navigate [the] email process. How it works is they’ll get an email with a link to sign up, and you need to click the link to sign up and put in some basic information to get your appointment.”

People may go to the website here to sign up: https://www.covid19washoevaccine.com/

The next groups in line will be those 65 and older and those who are next in line on essential workforce lists. Those workers include warehouse and distribution workers, grocery store employees, agricultural workers and delivery drivers.

Masks required to get vaccine 

English also said those showing up to get vaccinated not wearing masks will be turned away.

“We had some issues over the weekend with people refusing to wear masks,” he said. “And we will, going forward, politely ask individuals to leave the site until such time that they put a mask on. We will have masks available for any citizens that happen to forget theirs.Most everyone has been great about that. This is the first time we’ve really had some issues.”

U.S. reaches half million deaths from COVID-19 

The county’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 640 people have died from the coronavirus disease since it first reached the county nearly a year ago. No new deaths were reported in the past two days, however.

Cases also continue to decline. Only 14 new cases were reported today, a number not seen since the outset of the pandemic last year.

Nationally, however, the total death count surpassed 500,000 people, according to data presented by Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus resource center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, today reported about 470,000 deaths. The CDC reported its numbers are behind, so “these totals will likely equal or exceed counts reported by other sources through the same week.”

About half of the 500,000 deaths occurred since September.

COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in America for January 2021.

“The massive number and the loss of those people from our society has not been acknowledged,” said Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones, an epidemiologist and past president of the American Public Health Association, while speaking to reporters from National Public Radio. “We cannot think these people are disposable and dispensable and that we can just get along very well without them. It’s those kinds of blinders that sap the strength of the whole society.”

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