Updated January 11, 2022 - 5:54 pm
Clark County on Tuesday took another step in the wrong direction in its fight against COVID-19, reporting more than 3,000 new cases of the disease for a fifth straight day.
The 3,351 new cases reported in the county by the Southern Nevada Health District were well above the two week moving average of 3,180 cases per day, while the average added 89 cases per day from Monday’s report, according to state data.
The average, which public health experts say provides a better view of the direction of the outbreak, has risen nearly 88 percent over the last week alone.
There were other new warning signs Tuesday that the surge fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant of the new coronavirus continues to gain momentum:
— The Clark County School District announced it would cancel two days of school due to “extreme staffing shortages” caused by the high number of COVID-19 cases. No classes will be held from Friday until Jan. 19, the district said.
— The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the county’s case rate per 100,000 population over the past seven days exceeded 1,000, meaning that 1 percent of all residents tested positive during that time period. The rate has now increased more than tenfold since Nov. 1, when it briefly dipped to 92.69 before beginning to ascend.
Entire state back in ‘high’ risk category
The county is not alone in its plight, as new data from the CDC showed all of Nevada and most of the United States in the “high” risk of transmission category under the agency’s risk classification system.
The national surge is being caused by the highly contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus, which typically does not result in as many serious complications but is nevertheless on the verge of overwhelming health-care systems in many parts of the country through sheer numbers of infections. That’s the case in Southern Nevada, where local hospitals are operating under a staffing crisis designation declared by the Nevada Hospital Association.
Other key metrics for the county Tuesday were also concerning.
— Twenty-seven deaths were reported during the previous day, well above the two-week average of four per day, which remained unchanged. The daily report was likely inflated by the inclusion of fatalities from the preceding four days, though, as the health district has not been reporting any deaths over the weekend since mid-November. The two-week average of deaths also has remained nearly flat since the other metrics began rising in November.
— The 14-day test positivity rate increased 2.3 percentage points to 31.3 percent. It is now nearly 10 percentage points higher than the 21.5 percent ceiling of last year’s winter surge of the disease, when vaccines were just becoming available.
— The number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 increased by 78, to 1,434. That number is just 167 patients below the county’s pandemic high mark of 1,601 set on Jan. 6, 2021.
Totals for the county now stand at 404,221 COVID-19 cases and 6,571 deaths.
Update on mask mandate
The county also is farther than ever from exiting Gov. Steve Sisolak’s mask mandate.
While the county tracks most of its COVID-19 metrics using a 14-day moving average, the CDC uses a seven-day average for its calculations, on which the state mask mandate are based.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the CDC showed an average of 1,030.21 new cases per 100,000 residents in the county over the previous seven days, more than double the 400.84 reported at this time last week. Both figures are in the “high” risk of transmission category under the CDC system.
The second key COVID-19 metric used to determine when a county can exit the mask mandate is the test positivity rate.
Using the CDC’s seven-day average, the rate stood at 42.68 percent on Tuesday, also in the “high” risk category for that metric. That rate stood at 34.29 reported at this time last week.
For a county to exit the state mask mandate for crowded indoor public spaces, it must record back-to-back weeks with a seven-day average case rate under 50 per 100,000 residents and a seven-day test positivity rate below 8 percent — metrics considered as posing a “moderate” or “low” risk of transmission by the CDC.
Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada
State officials said Tuesday afternoon that the entire Silver State was in the CDC’s “high” transmission category this week. Eureka, Storey and White Pine counties remain exempted the mask mandate, but if they remain in “high” or “substantial” for another week, they’ll be required to mask up again.
All other counties are covered by the mandate.
Statewide numbers told a similar story as the county figures, with the state Department of Health and Human Services reporting 4,833 new cases and 33 deaths over the preceding day. That brought cumulative totals to 530,344 cases and 8,561 deaths.
Other state numbers
— Hospitalizations: 1,587 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients, up from 1,517 in Monday’s report.
— Test positivity rate: 28.5 percent, up from 26.3 percent on Monday.
— Vaccination: 55.01 percent of eligible Nevadans 5 and older have now been full vaccinated, compared to 54.29 percent in Clark County.
— Total breakthrough cases that resulted in hospitalization: 1,429, 60 more than last week
— Total breakthrough cases that resulted in death: 319, seven more than last week
— 5+ population: 3 million.
— Doses administered: 4.06 million.
— Vaccinations initiated: 1.97 million.
— Vaccinations completed: 1.66 million.
— Eligible fully vaccinated: 55.01 percent.
Sources: Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Census Bureau