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Federal ‘surge teams’ expected next week to aid Nevada’s COVID response

Updated July 9, 2021 - 7:43 pm

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with officials in Nevada to provide on-the-ground assistance beginning as early as next week in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and stagnant vaccination rates.

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced last week that the state would ask for more federal help — particularly, for the Las Vegas area — from “surge response teams” to help with outreach efforts.

Candice McDaniel, a deputy with the state Department of Health and Human Services, said officials with the Nevada Division of Emergency Management are working closely with FEMA to finalize the arrangements.

“We are grateful for FEMA’s responsiveness and support,” she said during an online news briefing on the state’s COVID-19 response on Thursday.

Sisolak’s Chief of Staff Michelle White said teams will be on the ground early next week and more will be coming the following week.

A lot of the focus will be on targeted community outreach to unvaccinated populations, White said, including expanding vaccination and testing sites throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

In remarks on July 6, President Joe Biden said the federal government was mobilizing “COVID-19 surge response teams,” which include representatives from FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The teams are going to “help states that have particular problems prevent, detect, and respond to the spread of the Delta variant among unvaccinated people in communities with low vaccination rates,” Biden said. “And some states have very low vaccination rates.”

Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Thursday that the surge response teams have begun working with several states, including Nevada, to identify and support the state-specific or county-specific needs.

“These efforts include providing expert support from the CDC on outbreak investigations; working with local health officials on getting more treatments for people with COVID; and helping states increase vaccine confidence, answer questions and expand access to vaccinations and testing,” he said at a news briefing.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

Review-Journal staff writer Gary Martin contributed to this report.

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