Governor: FEMA teams helped Vegas-area get-the vaccine push

October 8, 2021 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A decrease in COVID-19 case rates and increase in vaccinations can be credited to a nearly two-month effort led by federal emergency management “surge teams” in parts of Las Vegas, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday.

Test positivity, a key measure of the number of people tested shown to have COVID-19, has decreased statewide to 8.5%, the governor told reporters during a news conference featuring Federal Emergency Management Agency officials.

The rate, measured as a 14-day average, stood Thursday at 6.7% in Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County. But it was higher in some parts of the state — including 22.6% in Elko County. The World Health Organization goal is 5% for relaxing coronavirus mitigation measures.

Test positivity was climbing when Nevada became one of the first states to invite FEMA teams in mid-July. The rate peaked at 15.7% in Clark County in the first week of August, amid a wave of cases of the COVID-19 delta variant.

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The FEMA-led get-the-vaccine program targeted neighborhoods with low inoculation rates and high rates of infection, Sisolak said.

About 450 people including FEMA workers, local residents, health officials and AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteers covered 21 postal Zip codes and held 280 vaccination events in southern Nevada during the program, officials said.

FEMA Incident Commander Sharon Luce said the efforts led to 22% more vaccine doses administered to residents in one targeted Zip code area in North Las Vegas.

Statewide, Sisolak said 63% of the eligible population age 12 and older has now received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot. State health officials reported that more than 54% are fully vaccinated.

Washoe County has the highest rate of initiated vaccinations, at 70%, followed by Carson City at 69% and Clark County at 63%.

Just under 22% of residents in Storey County have initiated vaccinations, state health figures show.