If only Gov. Steve Sisolak were as committed to vaccine distribution as he is to pointing fingers.
On Monday, Sisolak held a news conference on his updated plan for rolling out the coronavirus vaccine. Unfortunately, his playbook lacked basic logistical details.
For instance, there is no clear timetable on when those 70 and older will be able to receive the vaccine.
“We are limited by certain factors out of our control, including how many doses are allocated to Nevada by the federal government,” Sisolak said.
That makes it sound as if Nevada doesn’t have any vaccines available. But the state has more than 100,000 shots sitting in freezers. The state has distributed 61,600 vaccines as of Sunday. It has received 170,400. That means Nevada has only given out a bit more than one-third of the vaccines it already has. That’s one of the lowest vaccine distribution rates in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nevadans, especially older ones, are desperate to find out when the vaccine will be available. Sisolak doesn’t need to advertise or persuade them to take it. He just needs to tell them when and where.
Instead, Sisolak complained about the challenges of “running the largest vaccination program in history.” You see, lockdowns are so much easier on the governor and his staff. All he has to do is sign a piece of paper and pretend he has solved the problem. Planning how to move vaccines throughout the state takes so much effort.
Sisolak said he created a committee to review what’s not working. But a bureaucratic committee is the antithesis of quick, decisive action. Why didn’t he have a distribution plan in place months ago?
“I am angry and frustrated at not having any information on how to access the COVID vaccine,” Merle Roth, who’s in her 80s, told me in an email.
She should be.
Rather than provide these details, Sisolak and his politically minded staff rebranded the rollout plan. Instead of “tiers,” there are now “lanes” and “buckets.” Problem solved. People will be so confused by this mumbo jumbo that they won’t have any energy left to notice Sisolak’s ineptness.
The path forward should be obvious. Make the vaccine available — today — to people 70 and older. Those ages 60 to 69 should be next in line, not 25-year-old teachers.
Provide first-come, first-served vaccines to the elderly at large venues, such as Allegiant Stadium or the Las Vegas Convention Center. Give vaccines to pharmacies, such as Walgreens and CVS, that are willing to offer them. Private companies may have a greater ability to schedule appointments, too.
Nevada has more than 100,000 vaccines currently available. Nevadans need a leader capable of overseeing the distribution of those vaccines to senior citizens within two weeks, not one worried about who he’ll blame for the state’s numerous failures.