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Clark County surpasses 2K coronavirus-related deaths

Updated December 14, 2020 - 6:19 pm

Clark County reached a somber milestone Monday when three new coronavirus-related deaths pushed the county’s death toll beyond 2,000.

New data posted by the Southern Nevada Health District to its coronavirus webpage increased the death toll in the county to 2,002.

“This is a sad milestone and a vivid reminder that while we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel we must remain vigilant and continue doing the things that protect us and our friends and families,” Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said in a statement. “That means wearing masks, social distancing, washing your hands frequently, and getting tested if you were exposed to someone who has COVID.”

The county also reported 1,706 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 142,937 since the beginning of the pandemic in early March.

State officials, meanwhile, reported 2,579 new coronavirus cases and nine more deaths over the preceding day. The numbers posted by the state Department of Health and Human Services brought the statewide case total to 189,412. The state has reported 2,548 deaths.

The daily case number was well above Nevada’s 14-day rolling average of 2,185, according to data from the health department. The state is averaging 18 deaths per day over the same period.

The new numbers came a day after Gov. Steve Sisolak extended the state’s pandemic “pause,” and as Nevada received its first batch of a vaccine for the coronavirus.

The vaccine is not expected to immediately affect the record levels of COVID-19 the state has been experiencing of late, since it will take time to inoculate enough people to slow and eventually stop the spread of the disease.

The surge is also being felt in the state’s hospitals, which reached a new high Monday of 2,025 suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, the state data showed.

Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients rose in Clark and Washoe counties over the weekend.

In Clark County, about 25 percent of licensed intensive care unit beds were empty, according to an update from the Nevada Hospital Association. About 41 percent of the remaining beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients and 34 percent with other patients.

About 78 percent of all hospital beds in Clark County were occupied, according to data from the association. COVID-19 patients made up about 31 percent of the total, while 47 percent were filled by individuals with some other ailment.

There was one seeming bright spot in Monday’s data: The two-week positivity rate calculated by state health officials dipped 0.2 percentage points from the preceding day to 21.3 percent. It was the fifth straight daily decrease in the rate.

But Caleb Cage, Nevada’s COVID-19 response director, said that while the positivity rate in Northern Nevada is decreasing, Southern Nevada is experiencing an uptick in cases.

“What we’re not seeing is a trend that’s going down nearly as rapidly as it was trending up,” he said.

The state is also not yet seeing the full impact from the Thanksgiving holiday, Cage said.

Julia Peek, deputy administrator for the state health department, said people need to keep up mitigation measures such as mask wearing and social distancing.

A statewide positivity rate over 20 percent is still “extremely high,” she said.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter. Review-Journal investigative reporter Michael Scott Davidson contributed to this report.

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