LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The COVID-19 pandemic has been the focus of the Southern Nevada health district for the past year, working with local and state officials on guidelines and curbing the spread of the virus.
The pandemic has tested our community in Southern Nevada in ways very few people have ever experienced.
Mask wearing and social distancing have become everyday routines. Now, questions about our future.
Is COVID-19 here to stay and what can be done to make sure we’re prepared for the next pandemic?
“We have a very strong community and a lot of local resources.”
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief health officer of SNHD says COVID-19 remains a new virus that continues to be studied. There is some suspicion in the scientific community, we may be dealing with COVID-19 for a while.
“It might be present for years in our community. Of course, not to the degree we’re seeing right now, perhaps more similar to the flu,” Dr. Leguen said.
As more is known about the virus, the efforts to vaccinate Nevadans will continue.
“Without it, we don’t go back to normal. If we can get enough of our population vaccinated, we can start to reopen our city and country go back to the events we had before COVID.”
Dr. Brian Labus with UNLV says this would mean getting herd immunity from the virus which would be about 70 percent or more Americans getting the shot.
“It’s a bit of a challenge to reach considering kids make up 22 percent of the population and they’re not eligible to be vaccinated yet,” he said.
Dr. Leguen says he believes there should be a focus on adequately funding public health in order to have programs in place to respond to future disease outbreaks. He says local health districts across the country, including SNHD, have been historically underfunded and understaffed. During the pandemic, SNHD received a surge in funding from the state and federal governments to respond to the pandemic.
“What will happen after the pandemic and that’s really the question. You really need funding to keep your staff ready to respond to anything,” he said.
Doctors continue to ask people to wear masks and social distance if they’re out in public even if they’ve been fully vaccinated.