The delta variant is surging in Nevada. That doesn’t mean it would be a good idea for Gov. Steve Sisolak to reimpose restrictions.
Nevada leads the nation in new coronavirus cases, according to The New York Times database on Tuesday. Hospitalizations are up almost 40 percent as well. That’s one of the largest increases in the nation.
The delta variant, which is a more contagious strain, is driving the increase in cases. Those infected with delta may experience more severe symptoms. Last week, around 16 percent of Nevada’s analyzed cases were the delta variant. That’s now up to 46 percent.
This suggests Nevada’s case growth is likely to continue in the short term.
That’s not great news. But it also wouldn’t justify Sisolak inflicting additional restrictions on Nevadans. That’s no idle fear. L.A. County officials are now recommending everyone — including fully vaccinated individuals — mask up indoors when in public places. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently urged vaccinated people to avoid crowds. President Joe Biden shared that clip in a tweet before deleting it.
If you wanted to cast doubts on the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines, that’s a pretty good strategy. But the two-shot vaccines have proved very effective against the delta variant. The efficacy of the Johnson &Johnson shot against delta is less clear.
Fortunately, two-shot vaccines are widely available for those who want to receive them. The holdup now isn’t supply but demand.
Broadly speaking, Nevadans fall into two groups. There are the vaccinated, who face minimal risk from the virus. There are the unvaccinated, who have chosen to risk catching the disease. Each group should feel free to live as they want.
Diving into the data further shows even less reason for concern. More than 80 percent of those 70 and older have initiated a vaccine. Among those in their 20s, it’s under 40 percent. This makes sense. The virus is disproportionately dangerous to the elderly. People have assessed their risk level and acted accordingly.
Even if cases go up, this data suggests hospitalizations and deaths won’t skyrocket like they did last summer.
That is happening in the United Kingdom, where delta started taking off a few weeks ago. There are around 10 times as many cases now as the low point in late May, according to Our World in Data. Hospitalizations are up around 70 percent. But both numbers are well below their peaks in January. Current hospitalizations are 26 times lower than that spike. That’s a long way from a crisis.
So far, Sisolak has given no indication that new restrictions are forthcoming. One reason for the change may be the 2022 election. Slowing down a roaring economy when vaccines are widely available is a good way to lose your job.
May Sisolak’s newfound restraint be long-lasting, whatever its motivation.