LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – We are on day 11 of the reinforced face mask mandate, but according to the White House, Nevada continues to be a hotspot for COVID-19.
During most of this pandemic, we’ve been told that masks are the only barrier between us and the virus. Yet now, as we move closer to two weeks since the start of the mandate, the numbers seem to vary when it comes to fighting the pandemic together.
While it seems like a never-ending battle with COVID, health officials like Southern Nevada Health District chief medical officer Dr Cortland Lohff say masks in addition to vaccination will be key to our relief.
“Masks can be very effective at transmitting the virus,” Lohff told 8 News Now. “When we have these big gatherings where people are exposed, it’s a good opportunity for the virus to be passed on to other people.”
According to Nevada Health Response, the Silver State now has the second slowest COVID case growth in the country in the past two weeks. We were also the first state to reinstate an indoor mask requirement.
But the test positivity rate continues to climb.
On Tuesday, the state had a test positivity rate of 16.3%, unchanged from Monday. A month ago, however, our test positivity rate was around 8.7% without the mask warrant.
“Almost all of our cases are due to the delta variant,” Lohff explained, “and it’s just a much more highly transmissible virus, which is why we’re seeing more and more cases here.”
So it’s not that the masks don’t work, it’s that the delta variant is very strong.
Some residents interviewed by 8 News Now said they won’t be ditching masks anytime soon, with or without a warrant.
“I feel more secure that the mask mandate is back, but I’m depressed that people are not respecting it,” said Victor Padron.
Scott Zhu said, “Sometimes we cough or something, and if we wear it we can protect others.”
Others are not sure if masks are the right approach.
“I don’t know if I necessarily feel safer, but I will do it out of respect for everyone,” said Taylor Prescott. “I don’t think it hurts.”
Lohff tells us it’s too early to determine when the mask warrants might be lifted. But if you happen to enter a workplace where the mandate is not implemented, you can file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. here.