From the day Governor Steve Sisolak issued the first Covid-related Declaration of Emergency in the Spring of 2020, to the recent offering of the third doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, Churchill County has been lauded for its model response to the pandemic.
Shannon Ernst, Director of Churchill County Social Services, recently presented a report of Churchill County’s Covid-19 response to the County Board of Health. The report, written by Churchill County Epidemiologist Brooke Morrison, outlines the steps the county has taken from the declaration of a pandemic in March 2020 through August 2021, including testing, administration of vaccines and the contributions of several county organizations and private businesses throughout the pandemic.
“Our team has worked very hard to map out what Churchill County’s response was,” Ernst said. “How did you respond to everything in the community, what did that look like, what did your numbers look like.”
The document includes a timeline that recaps each directive issued by Sisolak and each step taken by the county. The report will continue to be updated as long as the pandemic lasts.
“The response that Churchill County made during the pandemic was exceptional and it will be an excellent blueprint for the future and will help other communities as far as what’s possible,” said Dr. Tedd McDonald, County Health Officer and Chairman of the Churchill County Board of Health.
Some of the highlights of the 25-page report are noted below.
The virus SARS-CoV-2 was discovered in 2019 and became known as COVID-19 and “the Coronavirus” as it spread quickly throughout the world. The first case in the United States was confirmed in January 2020 and moved rapidly across the country.
The U.S. swiftly implemented mitigation efforts in an attempt to decrease transmission of SARS-CoV-2. States and counties were asked to join in the nationwide response to this public health crisis. Churchill County immediately responded when President Donald Trump declared a Nationwide Emergency and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed a Declaration of Emergency in March 2020.
According to the county’s report, testing and vaccinations commenced as soon as supplies became available. In May of 2020, Churchill County transformed the Fairgrounds into a drive-thru site for COVID-19 testing.
Since that time, the county has seen several trends with testing and case numbers. From May to November 2020, there was an upward trend of community testing performed by Churchill County Public Health. November peaked with more than 2,280 people testing for COVID-19. At the same time, November 2020 was also the peak for cases from those tested, with over 280 positive cases resulting.
On November 17, CCPH experienced a surge of 264 people in the drive-thru line to get tested. On that day, staff and volunteers banded together to overcome the long lines and ensure that all those waiting received testing.
From the peak in November to the following May, Churchill County saw a steady decline in both the number of people wanting to get tested and the number of positive cases. Unfortunately, since the start of the 2021 school year in August, there has been an increase in testing and positive cases.
Churchill County received its first shipment of the Moderna vaccine in December 2020 and was prepared to administer to all who qualified to be among the first to receive their shot. February was the busiest month for vaccines administered in Churchill County. The busiest day being the 25th when 556 people arrived for their first dose of the Moderna vaccine, and 216 people came back for second doses, totaling 772 people that day. As of June 21, 2021, CCPH has administered over 8,800 vaccines.
Churchill County would not have been able to respond to the pandemic as rapidly as it did if it were not for the community coming together during this time of need.
Churchill County School District provided breakfast and lunch to all students and siblings aged 0-18 years when the schools transferred to online distance learning for the last few months of the school year.
The City of Fallon paid for its employees to send their children to the CARE child program, so they could continue to work throughout the shutdown. The City of Fallon also provided meals during every testing and vaccine event for all working personnel and volunteers.
Frey Ranch Distillery produced hand sanitizer for distribution when there was a shortage.
The William N. Pennington Life Center donated food to the Churchill County community and offered drive-thru meals.
The Fallon Downtown Merchants Association and local restaurants fed the first responders and healthcare staff of Churchill County.
People in the community donated supplies, such as hand sanitizer, gloves, and masks.
The report outlines the long list of people and organizations whose contributions and efforts were part of the county’s response along with crediting the hundreds of volunteers.