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Biden touts efforts to increase COVID vaccinations

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden rolled out enhanced federal efforts to curtail the increased spread of the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus as vaccination rates stagnate in states including Nevada.

Biden laid out his plan Tuesday, days after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak requested federal assistance as Nevada shot to the top of the list of states with COVID-19 infections and trailed the national average in vaccinations.

Vice President Kamala Harris, in Las Vegas over the holiday weekend, said she talked with Sisolak about the need to get more people vaccinated. Harris urged labor leaders and workers in Nevada to get involved: “We need the help.”

Biden aired his frustration in an address to the nation Tuesday, noting that vaccinations are free and that the spread of the delta variant and increasing infection rates are largely the result of people who are reluctant to get a dose.

Missed goal

He said 160 million people would be vaccinated by week’s end, a goal Biden set in March for the Fourth of July.

“Right now, as I speak to you, millions of Americans are still unvaccinated and unprotected,” Biden said. “And because of that, their communities are at risk.”

Following a White House briefing with a federal COVID-19 response team, Biden announced new efforts to reach those unvaccinated.

The plan includes mobile units at sporting and music events, more vaccines to primary and local doctors, and shots made available to students who need physicals to participate in sports.

Vaccination for ages 12 to 18 is a priority to stop the spread of infection in “hot spots” across the country.

Biden said expanding vaccination clinics would also help reach people in targeted “community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood” outreach efforts. That outreach would include getting information and answers about vaccines to people who have shied away from clinics, drugstores and medical providers.

In short, the president pleaded with those who have been reluctant to get the shots by noting the spread of the deadlier delta variant.

“Do it now for yourself and the people you care about. For your neighborhood, for your country,” Biden said. “It may sound corny, but it’s a patriotic thing to do,” he added.

Incentives to vaccination

The president’s speech on COVID-19 efforts comes as states have offered incentives and giveaways to boost the sagging rate of vaccinations, the rise of infections and the spread of variants.

Many states, including Nevada, have offered prizes as incentives to get vaccinations through public, veteran or military clinics and sites. Still, vaccination rates have leveled off since earlier in the year, and infections are now rising.

Last week, Nevada led the nation in new COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions. Those cases continued to jump, according to reports Tuesday.

Sisolak, in a news release last week, said that the state was working with federal agencies to expand vaccination efforts in Southern Nevada. The governor noted the stagnant vaccination rate in Clark County, the emergence of the delta variant and a rise in hospital admissions.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective at reducing the severity of cases, hospitalization and deaths,” Sisolak said.

“We must continue to leverage resources at the federal, state and local level to increase access and confidence and get as many Nevadans protected from this deadly virus as possible.”

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.