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Nevada National Guard enters final stages of COVID battle

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ryan Getsie
  • 17th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Section

LAS VEGAS – After 16 months on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Nevada Guard Soldiers and Airmen are in the final stages of the battle as coronavirus cases hit an all-time low in the Silver State.

The number of Guardsmen working coronavirus missions in Nevada will decrease dramatically in the coming weeks, with fewer than 150 on COVID duty statewide by the end of July. The state expects to wrap up all operations by Sept. 30, if not sooner.

“This was the largest call up of our Guard forces in state history,” said Maj. Jon Minnich, executive officer of Joint Task Force 17. “The amount of coordination involved between the different agencies to fight this pandemic was tremendous.”

The city of Las Vegas will conduct a final large-scale vaccination effort at Allegiant Stadium June 10-13 and June 17-20 to inoculate as many people as possible. Over 45 Guardsmen will assist the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) during the four-day events.

“I had the opportunity to walk through Allegiant and it’s a beautiful venue,” Minnich said. “It’ll be well worth the experience for people to come here and get vaccinated. I can’t think of a better way to kick off a new start to a new season.”

Most of the coronavirus cases in the state were in the SNHD. Clark County had over 253,297 cases, 16,676 hospitalizations, and 4,428 deaths. Statewide, there have been 327,579 cases and 5,626 deaths.

Since the vaccination effort began in January 2020, the SNHD reported over 1,807,000 doses administered – more than 45% of the total southern Nevada population.

Guard forces have helped administer over 770,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine throughout the state. For over six months, the Guard has helped manage several vaccine distribution points with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the SNHD. Locations ranged from senior centers to elementary schools throughout the valley.

In April, the state launched a Mobile Vaccination Unit (MVU) that included Nevada Guardsmen and multiple partners to assist in vaccinating rural Nevadans. The goal was to facilitate equitable access to the life-saving vaccine in small towns.

Vaccinations were provided for almost two months for the Las Vegas Paiute Indian Tribe, then in Pahrump, Beatty, Goldfield, Tonopah, Round Mountain, Alamo, Panaca, Ely, Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, Dyer and Laughlin.

“I was glad to be out here helping our rural friends,” Sgt. Daniel Sheahan said. “This mission had us focused on providing access to this vaccine.”

JTF 17 helped test over 640,000 southern Nevada residents, with 85,000 tests conducted in northern Nevada.

The Nevada Guard has also helped manage and distribute millions of items of personal protective equipment.

Soldiers and Airmen made over 39,000 calls supporting health district tracing investigation teams and distributed more than 800,000 meals in partnership with Three Square during the height of the pandemic.

“Our Soldiers and Airmen helped save lives during this pandemic,” said Col. Troy Armstrong, land component commander. “Your selfless service, tireless efforts and willingness to place yourself in harm's way to save lives and protect our community is an inspiration to all of us. We will never forget your courageous actions.”