by Sonny Vinuya
THE tragedy of COVID-19 continues, and Las Vegas hospitals are doing an admirable job dealing with a sadly predictable outbreak that has sent large numbers of local residents to our emergency rooms and intensive care units in January. Nonetheless, it is heartening to look forward to the end of the pandemic, which is, thankfully, on the way at last.
Armed with two vaccines, and with more likely to be approved soon, we can finally start to imagine what will come next for our city. Hopefully, such positivity will help inspire us to keep up our mask wearing and social distancing a little longer.
One thing for sure, the Asian American community will be critical to Las Vegas’s return. We comprise the most rapidly expanding group in Southern Nevada, and our 22,000 businesses and counting are vital to the economy statewide.
We look forward to contributing to economic rebound and job creation, even though many of our companies have further to go. Misunderstandings about the novel coronavirus caused an unfair backlash and skyrocketing unemployment in Asian-American communities, but business owners and employees fought hard to make it through and are eager to take advantage of better times.
One way to supercharge our long-awaited recovery is for everyone to get vaccinated. Vaccination can put us in the fast lane to herd immunity, but only if we all take it upon ourselves to get vaccinated as soon as we are eligible.
This is especially important in communities of color. Sadly, COVID-19 has opened a window on the inequalities we face, including a higher prevalence of preexisting conditions and lower access to health care. Early on, Asian-American communities in particular were hard hit by severe COVID-19 cases. And today, we face higher hospitalization rates and a higher mortality rate than our share of the Clark County population.
We’re also, however, a big part of the response to this deadly virus. In fact, about one in five frontline medical workers in Nevada is Asian-American. I’m proud to report this statistic and to thank all the health care professionals and hospital leaders who have made great personal sacrifice to save so many lives.
Las Vegas, and the surrounding area, isn’t out of the woods yet with COVID-19, and our community hospitals have a great deal of work left to do. But there is a glimmer of hope with more and more people receiving the vaccine. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the beginning of the end, when pressure on hospitals will ease, health care employees get much deserved rest, and local businesses once again thrive. Or at least it can be if we all do our part by continuing to wear a mask, socially distance, avoiding large gatherings, and when it’s our turn, taking the vaccine.
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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.
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Sonny Vinuya is the president of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce.