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COVID-19 cases dip again in Clark County; hospitalizations at new high

Updated January 21, 2022 - 10:47 am

COVID-19 data for Clark County on Thursday provided a mix of good and bad news, with new cases registering a second straight decline while hospitalizations reached a new high for the pandemic.

Updated data from the Southern Nevada Health District showed 3,924 new coronavirus cases and 19 deaths reported in the county during the preceding day.

New cases were above the two-week moving average of 3,179 per day. But the average decreased for a second straight day and is 439 cases per day below Tuesday’s high of 3,618. That adds to indications this week that the surge of the disease caused by the omicron variant of the new coronavirus may be at or near its peak in the county.

But other indicators were not so positive.

The two-week moving average of daily fatalities increased from five to six. That figure has risen slightly this week after remaining mostly flat over the past month, while other key metrics were climbing sharply. Public health experts say deaths probably have remained low because the highly infectious omicron variant does not result in as many serious complications as other strains of COVID-19, such as delta.

But it remains to be seen if they will continue rise if leading indicators such as test positivity rate and new cases begin to fall, as fatalities tend to peak a month or more later.

“Usually what happens is obviously test positivity rate goes down, subsequently cases go down, subsequently hospitalizations go down and subsequently you see fewer deaths,” Cassius Lockett, director of disease surveillance and control for the Southern Nevada Health District, said Wednesday at a news briefing.

Hospitalizations at record high

Hospitalizations also show how sheer number of cases can cause problems though omicron is less virulent.

Southern Nevada hospitals are nearly at capacity, at the same time they are in the third week of a staffing crisis declared by the Nevada Hospital Association. The number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Clark County rose to 1,704 on Thursday, 77 more than on Wednesday and the highest it has been since the pandemic began.

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 0.2 percentage point to 38.2 percent. While that still represents a high-water mark for testing, increases in the rate have slowed considerably this week, another indication that the wave may be cresting.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

The seven-day test positivity rate favored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declined this week, registering back-to-back drops for the first time in more than a month.

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.

As of Thursday, totals for the county stood at 443,592 COVID-19 cases and 6,694 deaths.

State numbers

The state, meanwhile, reported 5,827 new coronavirus cases and 21 deaths, bringing totals posted by the state Department of Health and Human Services to 581,548 cases and 8,709 deaths.

New cases were above the two-week moving average, which — like the county — dropped significantly. The average stood at 4,036 on Thursday, well below the 4,248 reported on Wednesday. The two-week moving average of daily fatalities held steady at seven.

The Silver State’s 14-day test positivity rate increased by 0.2 percentage point to 35.4 percent, while the number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 increased by 89, to 1,941.

State data showed that as of Thursday, 55.41 percent of Nevadans 5 and older are fully vaccinated, compared with 54.77 percent in Clark County.

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

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