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COVID-19 cases in Clark County jump by 50 percent

New cases of COVID-19 in Clark County jumped by 50 percent this week, likely due in part to the Thanksgiving holiday, according to state data released Wednesday.

The 14-day average for daily new confirmed cases increased to 249 from last week’s 165, data from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services shows. Statewide, new cases increased to 324 from 224.

COVID-19 has risen to moderate levels in Clark County, a designation based on cases and hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nye, Esmeralda and Lincoln counties also are experiencing moderate levels. The rest of Nevada’s counties remain at low levels.

Infections are increasing across the country. “In the past week, we’ve started to see the unfortunate and expected rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations nationally after the Thanksgiving holiday,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a media briefing earlier this week.

”This rise in cases and hospitalizations is especially worrisome as we move into the winter months when more people are assembling indoors with less ventilation, and as we approach the holiday season where many are gathering with loved ones across multiple generations,” she said.

COVID-19 confirmed and suspected hospitalizations in Clark County increased to 311 from last week’s 279. Statewide, they increased to 359 from 340. The 14-day average for daily new deaths in both the county and the state remained at one.

About 17 percent of hospital emergency department visits statewide are related to COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Nevada Hospital Association.

“There have been some local increases in cases of severe COVID around the country, likely as a result of Thanksgiving travel and gatherings,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University. “It is anticipated that further holiday get-togethers will provoke similar increases around the country.”

Brian Labus, an assistant professor in UNLV’s School of Public Health, said that despite the large percentage increase, the numbers of new cases remain relatively low.

“It doesn’t look like we’re seeing massive spikes after Thanksgiving. At least not yet,” he said.

More testing for COVID-19 at medical facilities may be driving some of the increase in case numbers, Labus said, as people with a range of respiratory illnesses seek treatment instead of taking a rapid COVID test at home. The results of home tests aren’t reflected in state data.

The early beginning this season for flu and RSV, with COVID-19, have created a “perfect storm for a terrible holiday season,” said Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, chair of the board of trustees of the American Medical Association.

“Over the last few years COVID protective measures also prevented spread of flu and other respiratory infections, but we’re really no longer in that bubble,” she said at the CDC briefing.

Public health authorities continue to urge people to get an updated COVID-19 booster shot as well as an annual flu shot.

“Everyone who has not yet received the updated COVID booster is urged to do so promptly,” Schaffner said. “It is the best holiday gift you can give yourself and for your family and friends.”

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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