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Clark County, Nevada set COVID-19 case records; state in ‘red zone’

Updated July 16, 2020 - 5:20 pm

Both Clark County and the state set records for reported COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period on Thursday, with the former announcing 1,315 new cases and the state adding 1,447 cases.

The highs came as it was reported that Nevada was listed as being in a coronavirus “red zone” in an internal document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force. The report by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity said the state was included because it had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week and had more than 10 percent of its diagnostic test results come back positive.

Nevada’s inclusion on the coronavirus “red zone” in the task force document suggests that the state should revert to more stringent protective measures, some of which are already in place in the state. Among the steps cited in the article were limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, closing bars and gyms, and asking residents to wear masks at all times.

The Southern Nevada Health District announced the new case total for Clark County as well as five additional deaths on its coronavirus website. The new figures brought the case total for the county to 26,926 and raised the death toll to 507.

New cases were far above the daily average of just over 783 for the preceding week, while deaths were slightly below the daily average of just under six for the period.

The district also reported 28 new hospitalizations over the preceding day, slightly above the daily average of just over 24 for the preceding week.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported its new figures on its nvhealthresponse.nv.gov website, pushing Nevada’s case total to 31,915 and raising the death toll to 626.

New cases were well above the daily average of 881 over the preceding week, while deaths were slightly below the daily average of just over nine for the period.

Interactive: Tracking the coronavirus’ impact on Nevada through data

The state also reported 806 people with confirmed COVID-19 infections and 245 suspected cases involving hospitalizations in the state, for a total of 1,051.

The state infection or positivity rate, which public health experts say is a better barometer of the trend of the outbreak in Nevada, registered its eighth straight daily increase to reach 8.64 percent.

The rate, the number of confirmed cases divided by the number of people tested, declined for more than two months before hitting a low of 5.20 percent on June 17. It has risen every day but one since then.

Caleb Cage, the director of the state’s COVID-19 response, said at a news conference that the state is still seeing the fallout from the Fourth of July holiday.

“This is something that we anticipated because we know the Fourth of July is the time to get together and celebrate,” he said. “And even though there are directives for social distancing and a global pandemic we knew that, just like after other holidays, would likely increase the number of cases. So, are we concerned? Absolutely.

“And we want to express to others that they should be concerned at least to the point of taking this virus very seriously. Taking the directives very seriously. This is not something that we’re imposing on a whim. … This is something that is killing … hundreds of thousands of people around the world. And it’s impacting our ability to manage our vital hospital space here in the state.”

The report by the Center for Public Integrity, meanwhile, said Nevada was one of nine states that were cited in the White House task force document for failing to meet both the new cases and testing thresholds. The others were Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina. Nine other states failed to meet the new cases standard alone, and two others fell short of the testing mark.

Gov. Steve Sisolak last week reimposed restrictions on bars and restaurants to address a spike in cases, including closing bars that don’t serve food in counties deemed hot spots, including Clark County.

The governor also issued a directive last month requiring people to wear face masks in nearly all public spaces to help contain the spread of the disease.

His directive also limits public and private gatherings to 50 or fewer people, but drops that figure to 10 in “circumstances that do not allow for appropriate physical distancing.”

The Center for Public Integrity said the report was prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force and had been circulated within the federal government but had not been made public. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the document, it said.

A previous version of this article had an incorrect date for the low point in the state infection rate.  

Contact Mike Brunker at mbrunker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Mary Hynes contributed to this report.

White House coronavirus Nevada report by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

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