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Vaccine eligibility to expand as Nevada reports higher-than-average cases

All Nevadans 16 and older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday, a milestone in a pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives in the state.

To achieve an equitable distribution of vaccine in the state, two Federal Emergency Management Agency mobile clinics will deploy in Nevada this week, visiting rural and tribal areas with less access to medical infrastructure, the state announced Saturday.

UNLV epidemiologist Brian Labus said it is not easy for people in smaller, more remote communities to get to vaccination centers that have been set up in more populated areas.

“So this allows us to take the vaccine to the people,” he said.

The mobile units are expected to vaccinate at least 250 people per day using the single-dose Johnson &Johnson vaccine, also referred to as the Janssen vaccine.

Labus said the Johnson &Johnson vaccine is being used because it allows officials to vaccinate communities without having to return for a second dose.

North Las Vegas will also use the Johnson &Johnson vaccine in its efforts to vaccinate homebound residents in a program that begins Monday.

As of Thursday, about one-third of Nevadans 16 and older had initiated vaccination, and nearly 20 percent of people in that same age group had completed the vaccination process, according to state data.

On Sunday, public health officials reported 260 new coronavirus cases in Nevada and no additional deaths. New cases were above the two-week moving average of 208 per day. Over the same period, Nevada averaged three deaths per day.

The updated numbers from the state Department of Health and Human Services brought Nevada’s cumulative case total to 305,176. The state death toll remains at 5,274.

Health officials in many rural counties do not work on weekends, affecting weekend reporting, Caleb Cage, the state’s COVID-19 response director, has said.

Hospitalization numbers are not reported on weekends.

The state’s two-week positivity rate, a key disease metric that essentially tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, was not updated Sunday because the state did not receive data for the previous day, a health department spokeswoman said. The rate was reported at 4.2 percent on Saturday.

Meanwhile, officials in Clark County reported 146 new cases, bringing the local cumulative case total to 235,590. The local death toll remained at 4,132. County numbers are reflected in statewide totals.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar @reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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