Key official blames Nevada’s return to unvaccinated masks

California virus rules ease as vaccine eligibility loosens

He said he’s especially frustrated by those who argue the decision on whether to get vaccinated is a personal choice that should be left to an individual “because it only affects them.” “That is false. Whether somebody is vaccinated or unvaccinated affects our community. It affects everybody’s risk of being infected,” Dick said Wednesday.

Health officials reported 1,179 new coronavirus cases statewide Wednesday, their highest level since February. “Our COVID-19 transmission is driven by our unvaccinated population,” Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick told reporters in Reno. State health officials say 47% of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated and about 57% have received at least one shot.

“It seems sad to me that when you look globally, we see so many people that are dying because they don’t have access to the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dick said. “Here in Washoe County, in our state, in our nation, we are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 and people dying because the vaccine is available but they are refusing to get it.” Gov. Steve Sisolak has issued an order effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday that requires masks indoors regardless of vaccination status in 12 of 17 counties, covering Las Vegas, Reno, Carson City and Elko. It followed an indoor masking recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for counties with high transmission rates.

Also effective Friday, masks will be required indoors for all students, employees and members of the public at higher education institutions statewide. Health officials have attributed Nevada’s surge since mid-May to the highly contagious delta variant and say most people who are hospitalized have not been inoculated against the virus. Dick said “nobody welcomes moving back to requiring masks.”

“But I believe it is necessary because of what we know about the delta variant now,” he said. “We don’t want to be experiencing the surge that we did last fall. We don’t want to be having to further restrict business or our economy.” Las Vegas and Clark County account for 89% of infections in the state. Sixteen of 20 newly reported deaths in what the Nevada Hospital Association termed the state’s fourth wave of the pandemic were in the Las Vegas area. “The increases in Nevada’s COVID-19 case count are entirely driven by activity in the southern part of the state,” the association said in a weekly report Wednesday. “Northern and rural areas are seeing very modest increases or remaining stable.”

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