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Clark County sees highest 1-day COVID case increase in nearly a year

Updated December 29, 2021 - 5:35 pm

Clark County on Wednesday reported 2,201 new coronavirus cases — its largest single-day total in nearly a year.

Case levels have been rising for weeks, but the trend has accelerated since Nevada’s first case of the more-infectious omicron variant of COVID-19 was announced on Dec. 14.

Wednesday’s update included the highest number of infections reported since 2,320 new cases were reported on Jan. 11, as last winter’s surge of the disease caused by the new coronavirus was just beginning to ebb. That remains the highest crest the state and county have seen during the pandemic.

But the trend lines for local and state COVID-19 metrics suggest the current wave is going to get worse before it gets better, meaning new cases at least are expected to soon surpass that mark.

A state lab report updated on Thursday indicated that a total of 36 omicron cases have now been identified in the state. The Southern Nevada Health District said in a news release that 18 of those were detected in Clark County.

Because only a small sample of positive tests are genetically sequenced to determine which strain of the disease caused the infection, it’s likely that omicron — described as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization — is far more prevalent than that.

The health district also reported 15 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, bringing totals posted by the health district to 363,685 cases and 6,451 deaths.

New cases were well above the two-week moving average, which increased by 67 to 664 per day. Fatalities were five times the two-week moving average in the county, which held steady at three per day.

Delta blamed for most hospitalizations

The number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in the county also jumped significantly, increasing by 87 to 774.

The county’s 14-day test positivity rate, which tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, increased by 0.7 percentage point to 10.1 percent. That was the first double-digit reading for the metric since Aug. 31.

While omicron is believed to be contributing to the sharp jump in new cases, the Nevada Hospital Association said Wednesday in its weekly update that the delta variant is still causing most COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the state. That aligns with early evidence suggesting that the omicron variant does not lead to as many serious outcomes as delta.

The trade group also said that hospitalizations for the disease have remained flat or decreased over the last seven days in all Nevada counties except for Clark and Washoe. Overall, it said, COVID-19 patients accounted for about 15 percent of occupied hospital beds and 17 percent of those in intensive care units.

Staffing shortages remain a problem, particularly in acute-care facilities, but “Nevada’s hospital infrastructure remains in a steady state,” it said.

However it warned that Clark and Washoe counties could face potentially dangerous situations within weeks if new cases continue to explode.

“A week over week increase, at this rate, could reasonably influence the risk table and generate warning status for the percentage of patients in the hospital with COVID in either or both counties by mid-January,” it said.

At a news conference Wednesday, Washoe County public health officials said the Northern Nevada county is seeing sharp increases in both cases and its test positivity rate, which reached a record 37.9 percent in tests run on Monday — meaning more than a third of all those tested were positive.

Kevin Dick, district health officer for the Washoe County health district, said that the rise is likely being fueled by a combination of holiday gatherings and omicron.

‘I don’t think this is a short spike’

“I think we’re seeing both of those things, and I don’t think this is a short spike,” he said. “I think what we’re going to see is a continuing increase, particularly as we have more omicron cases happening and we’re seeing more of the cases that are resulting from holiday gatherings.”

The state Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, on Wednesday reported 2,483 new COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths during the preceding day. That brought totals for the state to 481,714 cases and 8,407 deaths.

Nevada’s 14-day moving average of new cases increased by 79 to 783 per day. The two-week average for fatalities increased by one to five per day.

State and county health agencies often redistribute daily data after it is reported to better reflect the date of death or onset of symptoms, which is why the moving-average trend lines frequently differ from daily reports and are considered better indicators of the direction of the outbreak.

Of the state’s other closely watched metrics, the two-week test positivity rate increased 0.6 percentage point to 9.3 percent, while the number of people in Nevada hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases rose to 895, 106 more than on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday’s report, state data showed that 54.32 percent of eligible Nevadans 5 and older had been fully vaccinated, compared with 53.63 percent in Clark County. Both figures are well below the national average, which stood at 61.9 percent as of Wednesday, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Carson City had the state’s highest vaccination rate, at 62.73 percent, as of Wednesday, while Storey County was the lowest at 20.88 percent.

Contact Jonah Dylan at jdylan@reviewjournal.com. Follow @TheJonahDylan on Twitter.

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