HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada on Monday encouraged people to shop on the state's health insurance exchange to determine if they can get cheaper coverage thanks to the new federal coronavirus relief law.

The Democratic senator held a news conference in Henderson to promote the benefits of the relief law signed by President Joe Biden last month.

Cortez Masto said the law increases subsidies for 60,000 Nevada residents who are already receiving them to help pay for their health insurance on the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.

She said the law also makes 40,000 other people eligible for subsidies and anyone receiving unemployment benefits eligible for free monthly premiums and help paying copays and deductibles.

“What this means is that if you already have a plan, there's a good chance it's cheaper. And if you found coverage to be unaffordable up to this point, you could be eligible for discounted coverage or even a plan that is free to you," Cortez Masto said.

Officials with Silver State Health Insurance Exchange said the new rates and assistance should begin showing up on the online system at the end of the month. The rates and assistance will be effective from May 1 through the end of the year.

There is usually a limited window at the end of the year when people can sign up for health plans, but a special enrollment period has opened from Feb. 15 through May 15 because of the pandemic.

Also Monday, Nevada began allowing anyone 16 and older to sign up for COVID-19 vaccines.

Karissa Loper, the new vaccination chief at the state Bureau of Child, Family and Community Wellness, told reporters that teens ages 16 and 17 may be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine at pharmacies and other immunization sites.

Statewide, 20.75% of the population age 16 and older has been fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. More than one in three Nevada residents have received at least one shot.

Officials in southern Nevada, where three-fourths of the state's population lives, reported they had administered more than 1 million doses as of Monday. Statewide, more than 1.3 million doses have been administered.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has provided two mobile vaccination units to Nevada to travel to remote rural and tribal areas over the next month to offer shots in places wher emedical facilities are limited.

The mobile units are expected provide at least 250 shots daily of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to walk-up registrants ages 18 and older.

Health officials on Monday reported 181 additional cases of COVID-19 statewide, which raised the tally to 305,357 confirmed cases so far, and one new death, bringing the toll to 5,275.

The number of coronavirus tests administered statewide was approaching 3 million, and the virus infection positivity rate ticked up a notch to 4.3% after holding at 4.2% for more than two weeks. The World Health Organization goal is 5% for relaxing pandemic prevention restrictions.


Associated Press writer Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.