Pershing County COVID-19 Update - August 20,2021

Covid-19 cases are on the rise again in Pershing County since the end of July. As of today, there have been 14 new confirmed cases in the last 8 days! 18 new cases since August 1st, 4 of these have been hospitalized, and 1 was transferred to Reno. These are all community cases. (To compare: Pershing County had 2 cases in June and 3 cases in July).

The delta variant is the predominant variant in Nevada and the US (over 90% of cases). It is 50% more contagious than the alpha variant that was 50% more contagious than the original. This means 1 person may infect 3-4 people, whereas 1 person with the alpha variant may have infected 2-3 people. Cases can rise very quickly, which we are seeing now.

Fully vaccinated individuals can still get infected and spread the illness. However, those who are fully vaccinated are very unlikely to become seriously ill or die - this is the goal of vaccines.

Reno/Sparks and many other nearby hospitals are filling up again with Covid patients. Some hospitals have reached capacity and can’t accept transfers from smaller hospitals like ours due to staffing shortages. We NEED to STOP the SPREAD.

With the recent spike in cases, Pershing County is now in the high transmission category.

Masks are required for all individuals in public settings (indoors and in crowded outdoor settings) regardless of vaccination status. This mask mandate is effective for Pershing County starting today 8/20/2021 and may be removed once the rate of transmission goes down for 2 consecutive 14-day reporting periods (28 days).

Masks worn correctly, good hand hygiene, and social distancing are still the best ways to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and most other viruses. *People can be contagious before symptoms start and some people can be infected, have NO symptoms, and be contagious. Please wear masks when you’re in public to protect yourself and others.

Vaccination is the best public health prevention strategy to end the Covid-19 pandemic. This is NOT a political opinion. This is a medical opinion and just makes sense. *Did you know, the first vaccination law in the US was passed in 1855….* Vaccinations currently required for schools include the Measles vaccine in the MMR and inactivated poliovirus (IPV), which were initiated in times of public health crisis due to illness, disability, and death from these viruses. There was as much controversy and opposition at those times as there is now. I understand vaccine hesitancy due to fear and uncertainty. However, during a pandemic we need to move forward with scientific evidence – the COVID vaccine is safe and it works.

The two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are SAFE and 95 percent effective two weeks after the second dose and 99 percent effective in preventing severe illness and death. The Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine is SAFE and is 60-70% effective two weeks after the injection and over 70% effective in preventing severe illness and death.

Vaccines are available at Pershing Physicians Clinic and the Community Health Nurse Clinic.

Pershing General Hospital currently has Regeneron, a monoclonal antibody solution, that can be used to treat acute Covid-19 infections. It has FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for non-hospitalized patients without additional oxygen requirements who are at high risk of severe Covid-19 and/or hospitalization. It must be given within the 1st TEN days of infection and is most effective when given early. It is a protein (antibody) made to help your body fight this specific infection. Monoclonal antibodies have been successfully used for many other diseases and cancers for the last 20 years.

Vaccines do this ahead of infection (help your body make your own antibodies to fight a specific infection if it invades the body).

I strongly encourage vaccination for everyone who is eligible. I hope to see COVID vaccines approved for children 5-11 soon, they are currently available for 12 and older.

A recent update for immunocompromised individuals: a 3rd dose of vaccine is advised for some individuals. Please contact your health care provider or Community Health Nurse.

Please stay safe and well,

Kamin VanGuilder, MD, Pershing County Health Officer
Tyson McBride, PA-C, Deputy Pershing County Health Officer