Nevada has passed an emergency ordinance requiring people in 12 out of 17 counties – whether vaccinated or not – to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
From Friday at 12:01 p.m., the mandate will come into effect in circles with significant or high transmission of COVID-19, according to a press release published on Tuesday afternoon.
Nevada Counties That Will Be Affected: Carson, Churchill, Clark, Douglas, Elko, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Washoe, and White Pine.
Further COVID-19 reporting:Rise in Delta variant cases raises concerns about summer events in Reno. on
The city of Reno announced on Tuesday afternoon a mandate that all people, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask or face covering in public indoor spaces from Wednesday in all facilities in the city of Reno.
Nevada mandate follows CDC guidelines
The state’s announcement of the new restrictions comes on the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course and even asked fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas with high levels of coronavirus transmission.
While masks are unlikely to suppress its spread in the community, experts say, they could put pressure on the unvaccinated and encourage businesses and schools to implement masking requirements.
The CDC now also recommends universal internal masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors in schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, regardless of vaccination status. This is in close line with the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which this month recommended that everyone over the age of 2 be required to wear a mask in school.
Cases are rising across the Silver State
Nevada has resurfaced as a COVID-19 hotspot in recent weeks due to the spread of the Delta variant.
After dropping to just 132 new cases per day on June 9, Nevada saw a steep spike in the weeks that followed as the variant caught on in the state. By July 24, the new confirmed COVID cases rose to 870 a day, a level not seen since early February.
On Tuesday, Nevada recorded 792 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases registered during the pandemic to 352,567. Nationwide, 5,854 people died of Covid-19.
In Washoe County, the seven-day average for new cases rose to 67 on July 26, a steep increase from the previous month when the county reported a seven-day average of 13 on May 31.
The COVID-19 positivity rate, which measures the percentage of COVID-19 tests that return with a positive result, has also risen steadily this summer, since it dropped to just 2.8% on June 7. The rate hit 5% – the World Health Organization’s limit on reopening – on July 10th.
Less than two weeks later, the positivity rate broke the 8 percent mark in Washoe, which is one of the thresholds the governor has set when assessing whether a county is at increased risk for COVID-19.
On July 25, the rate was 9.1%.
By Tuesday afternoon, 1,143 people across the country had been hospitalized – 36 of them with ventilators, according to state data.
Clark County – home of the Las Vegas Strip – accounts for nearly 80% of the state’s COVID-19 cases and has the highest incidence rate. In Washoe County, health officials have logged 47,296 cases and 690 deaths.
The surge prompted Clark County commissioners last week to urge all employees who work indoors in a public space to wear masks.
A week earlier, the Southern Nevada Health District recommended the wearing of masks for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in crowded indoor public places. The district has changed its mask policy after rising case numbers and hospital admissions for COVID-19.
Vaccination rates low
CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said new data shows that the delta variant, which accounts for more than 80% of new infections in the US, behaves “uniquely different” from its predecessors and could make vaccinated people contagious.
“Information about the Delta variant from several states and other countries suggests that on rare occasions, some vaccinated people who are infected with the Delta variant after vaccination can be contagious and transmit the virus to others,” Walensky said . “This new science is worrying and unfortunately warrants an update of our recommendation.”
In Nevada, vaccination rates remain low, state data shows.
Carson City has the highest vaccination rate in the state – about 50 percent. In Washoe it’s 48 percent.
Clark County, where the highest number of new cases were recorded, has a vaccination rate of 39 percent.
A big part of the challenge in increasing vaccination rates is vaccinating hesitant. While the county saw high numbers of vaccinations earlier this year, rates have slowed since then. Reasons for being hesitant to vaccinate range from health concerns to personal and political beliefs.
Earlier this month, Washoe County Health Officer Kevin Dick pleaded for residents to receive the vaccine as the Delta variant continues to make its way into the state. At the time, Dick said that higher vaccination rates were critical to making sure things didn’t go down after the advances of the past few months.
“The vaccine is free and available to anyone aged 12 and over, regardless of immigration status,” Dick said at the time. “This is our way forward on COVID-19. We don’t want … to be in a situation where we tell everyone to wear masks. “
Health officials also expressed concern in late June that the variant was quickly gaining a foothold after a COVID cluster was confirmed in a Washoe kindergarten.
“The super-contagious nature of the Delta variant is very worrying,” said Nancy Diao, director of epidemiology and public preparedness for the Washoe County Health District.
“We already saw in the UK that it was adopted within a month.”
Contributing: USA TODAY.
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