As the omicron variant of COVID-19 starts making its way into Nevada, it doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on Mineral County quite yet. As of December 21, there have been 840 positive cases of covid in total within the community since the pandemic began, 32 inconclusive results, 816 recoveries, 8 active positives, and 16 deaths. No cases of the omicron variant have been reported.
However, community testing events have diminished over the past few months which may make the total impact of covid in Mineral County inaccurate. One media outlet noted that the test positivity rate in Mineral County seems to have increased quite a bit lately (with one in seven residents infected with covid), suggesting that the number of cases are substantially undercounted.
“There’s not a whole lot of testing going on so it’s hard to get an accurate reading [on how covid is trending in Mineral County],” says Mt. Grant General Hospital Administrator Hugh Qualls. He added that none of the people who tested positive for covid at the hospital had the omicron variant, as far as he knows of. However, Mineral County is still waiting to see the results and aftermath of the holidays as people come back from traveling, gathering with loved ones, and start circulating throughout the community again.
“There’s not a lot of compliance with mask wearing and vaccinations. We’re still under 50 percent vaccinated and even less than that is boosted. I think people have become apathetic and that this isn’t an issue anymore. And I hope they’re right.
“I’m hearing that omicron is not a serious health issue like delta, but another variant could spring up. Here at the hospital, we’re still doing everything we can to stay safe- 90 percent of our staff is vaccinated and boosted and we’re still requiring everyone to wear masks when they’re in the hospital. We’re doing everything we can to keep it all in check,” Qualls says.
Since the pandemic began (and when Mineral County started reporting its cases in spring of 2020), data shows that the most positive cases were reported in September of 2021 shortly after school went back into session. The Mineral County high school and junior high shut down for a week when many students and staff tested positive and the District performed a deep cleaning of school facilities, but there haven’t been any issues since school went back into session on January 3.
“It’s been good, we haven’t had to change [the schools’ health and sanitization system] much and no kids have gotten covid yet,” says Mineral County High School and Junior High Principal Jeff Wales. The District is still enforcing its mask policy and sanitizing classrooms regularly, and there hasn’t been a big outbreak since the beginning of the school year.
“The students got out the week before Christmas and just got back on Monday from their winter break, we just started the second semester. We’ve been lucky so far and we’re excited and happy to be back,” Wales adds.
There are two community testing and vaccination events coming up at the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, January 13, and Tuesday, January 18 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson& Johnson, and flu shots will be available. The Hawthorne Army Depot is also hosting a testing and vaccination event on January 13 from 1-3 p.m. No appointments are necessary, and anyone can show up. Please keep in mind that there is a shortage of rapid tests, so only PCR tests will be available, and it takes 2-4 days to get results back.