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Nevada seeing ‘significant resurgence’ in COVID hospitalizations

Updated November 9, 2020 - 8:13 pm

Nevada is experiencing a “significant resurgence” in COVID-19 hospitalizations in both the northern and southern parts of the state, the Nevada Hospital Association said Monday.

The current coronavirus hospitalization counts are the highest in the state since mid-August, “effectively erasing the progress made over the past three months,” the association said in a post on its website.

Although trending upward, hospitalizations statewide have not reached the record levels experienced in late July and early August during the first COVID-19 surge. Hospitals in Northern Nevada have been especially hard-hit in recent weeks, health officials said.

Representatives of hospitals in Southern Nevada said Monday that their facilities are not overwhelmed by patient volumes and that there is no need to postpone elective surgeries, which occurred during the first surge in COVID-19 cases.

“But we’ll have to see what the coming weeks, and really the next couple of months, show us in terms of the numbers of patients,” said Dan McBride, chief medical officer for Valley Health System, which operates six hospitals in the Las Vegas Valley.

“Obviously, we can’t keep going up at the same rate we’ve been doing for the past several weeks,” he said.

Rising cases

On Monday, Nevada reported 960 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death, increasing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 110,982 and fatalities to 1,852.

Meanwhile, the Southern Nevada Health District reported 583 new cases and no new deaths in Clark County.

According to a Review-Journal analysis, Nevada is experiencing its highest ever seven-day average for new cases: 1,267.

Statewide, hospitals continue to have capacity to admit more patients. In Clark County, 82 percent of licensed beds are occupied; about 16 percent of patients are being treated for COVID-19. Sixty-eight percent of ICU beds are occupied, 22 percent with COVID-19 patients. About 25 percent of ventilators are in use, 8 percent by COVID-19 patients.

Today’s hospitalizations are a reflection of new cases reported several weeks ago. It remains uncertain whether in the next few weeks the increases in hospitalizations will begin to mirror the sharp rise in new cases.

However, a significant number of new cases are among younger, healthier people who are less likely to require hospitalization, health authorities say. And those who are hospitalized now are not not as sick as patients in July. Furthermore, more effective treatments also have resulted in a lower rate for intensive care.

Still, University Medical Center CEO Mason VanHouweling expressed concern at the increasing percentage of people testing positive — which currently averages 13.6 percent statewide over a 14-day period — and what it might portend.

“We’re looking at it every day, every hour, to make sure we are prepared and ready,” VanHouweling said. “We’re in a stable, watchful state. The time that we’ve had to prepare has served us well. We’re in a pretty good position as it stands today.”

In a regular briefing with reporters Monday, state officials declined to say whether any new statewide COVID-19 restrictions would be announced in the near future because of the rising hospitalizations, instead stressing the need for personal responsibility.

“I would just encourage Nevadans to think about how they can personally change behaviors to impact the course of this disease and the spread of this disease in the community,” such as telecommuting or postponing social gatherings, said Julia Peek, deputy administrator with the state Department of Health and Human Services.

And what about large Thanksgiving gatherings? McBride said, “I would say to the public, ‘Let’s plan for next year.’ ”

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

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