The County Board of Health meeting was held on Monday, February 14 at 9 am where board members heard a presentation on the response to COVID-19 by Churchill County.
Social Services Director, Shannon Ernst reported that there have been a total of 12,155 doses of COVID vaccine administered in the community, with 12% of that going to non-residents and 87% going to local community members and county employees. There have been a total of 601 children ages 12 -17 vaccinated.
Testing for the virus also continues and the positivity rate in Churchill County was at 31.8% on February 9, with a 7-day lag at the state. Ernst explained that the positivity percentage is high because fewer people are testing and the ones who are testing are symptomatic.
According to Ernst, there has been an “uptick” in COVID numbers due to the Omicron variant during January, with 160 positives a day, which is now resolving, and the community is back down to 15 -20 positives a day.
There has been a total of 6,168 positive tests in the community since COVID began, with 5,980 recovering. There are currently 90 active cases and a total of 98 deaths credited to COVID since May of 2020.
The monoclonal treatments that the county had been providing, with 23 in November, 34 in December, and 48 in January, have been put on hold for now. Ernst said those treatments are not feasible with the Omicron variant, and although the county does have the medicine, she said the county does not have the proper equipment to administer the infusions.
Ernst also reported on efforts to create a local Health District, partnering with Mineral, Pershing, and Eureka counties. She said a committee made up of members from each county has been meeting monthly to address what services the district will provide, changes that can be made at the legislature, and identifying a cost structure from the state to know what kind of fees can be charged and what would be a cost breakdown for environmental health and community health services.
She will be making a presentation at the next State Board of Health meeting and will provide that presentation to the County Board of Health as well.
Kadie Zeller, from the Churchill Community Coalition, reported on the activities of the Coalition, saying that they have been working with Lahontan Elementary to provide mindfulness activities over the Public Address system at the school. The mural project at Juvenile Probation has been completed and they are now working with the Churchill County Museum to provide a mural for the “Our Community, Our Story” exhibit.
Ernst reported that the projects funded by the marijuana tax revenue are continuing into the second quarter including a mental health project and the Too Good for Drugs program through the Community Coalition, and the mental health program through the Churchill County School District in partnership with the University of Nevada.
Additionally, the Behavioral Health Task Force continues to meet and prioritize activities through three sub-committees. The education committee is working on mental health and substance abuse access to services and providing training in crisis management. The Adult Committee is identifying where there are resource gaps and through that work found a lack of services during COVID to address grief and loss. Ernst said there is now a weekly meeting held at the Pennington Life Center in cooperation with New Frontiers to provide this counseling with nine to fifteen people attending each week and the opportunity to have one-on-one counseling if it is needed. The Youth Committee is working to identify how to obtain more services for youth who are in crisis.
Zeller reported that through the committee, members have created a three-tiered model to address youth substance abuse and are working to create a process at the high school that will formalize a protocol for when a student is identified as abusing drugs. Additionally, the committee is working to find funding to develop a “Handle with Love” app that will be used when a student experiences a traumatic event in their life for law enforcement and schools to be notified that the student is in a delicate situation.
The next Board of Health meeting is scheduled for May 9.