The state has exited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high rate of transmission” classification after a winter surge of COVID-19 cases caused by the highly contagious omicron variant.
Cases have declined sharply in Clark County since the peak of the surge in January. That led Gov. Steve Sisolak to rescind the state’s mask mandate on Feb. 10, though no county had hit the criteria previously needed to exit it.
Masks are still required for some public transportation, including all areas of Harry Reid International Airport and the planes that serve it.
Declining case rates and hospitalizations, as well as new treatments for the disease, all contributed to his decision, Sisolak said, which comes as resignation sets in that the country likely will need to coexist with the virus rather than vanquish it. Nevada reported its first case of COVID-19 in a resident on March 5, 2020.
Some public health authorities believe lifting mask mandates now is letting our guard down too soon, a result of pandemic fatigue and annoyance.
The governor encouraged people who wish to continue wearing masks to do so, including those at higher risk for disease such as those with compromised immune systems.
Omicron was considered even more contagious than delta, which itself was described as “probably the second-most infectious disease we’ve seen in the past 100 years” by Dr. Cassius Lockett of the Southern Nevada Health District.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring levels of COVID-19 transmission in counties across the U.S.
Nevada’s test positivity rate still remains well above 5 percent – the optimal goal set by the World Health Organization.
The rate is calculated by dividing positive tests by the total number of tests administered. State officials measure the average rate of the past 14 days, with test results reflecting the date the testing specimen was collected.
Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated Nevadans have risen since September 2021.
Health experts have said they expect breakthrough cases to rise as more of the population gets vaccinated, but they have stressed that hospitalizations and deaths from breakthrough cases remain rare.
Hospitalizations among people infected with COVID-19 rose during the winter wave.
The vast majority of recent hospitalizations and deaths are reported to have been among the unvaccinated.
Nevada measures what portion of its staffed acute-care hospital beds are currently full. It also measures the number of licensed intensive care unit beds that are full.
However, certain hospitals in Southern Nevada reported nearing or reaching their max capacity in recent months.
In addition to COVID-19 patients, the hospitals are also treating people who delayed seeking care or had surgeries postponed earlier in the pandemic.
The data below is updated weekly. It represents the previous week’s hospital capacity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that vaccines currently available in the U.S. “are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the omicron variant.”
The state released an official definition of a COVID-19 death in late 2020.
Most who died were age 60 or older with underlying health issues. In Clark County, a large majority had underlying health conditions, making them more susceptible to severe outcomes, according to data.
Research, graphics credit: Michael Scott Davidson, Wes Rand, Severiano del Castillo Galvan