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COVID-19 is ‘becoming endemic,’ state official says, as metrics continue decline

Updated March 10, 2022 - 8:24 pm

Clark County on Thursday reported 516 new coronavirus cases and 16 deaths, as the state announced major changes to its reporting process and a state official said the disease is “becoming endemic.”

“We do expect to still have outbreaks of COVID,” state biostatistician Kyra Morgan said. “Just kind of normalizing ourselves to the idea that COVID is becoming endemic. And by definition that means that it will still persist in our communities at some level, it just means that within that we have the tools that we need to contain it to where it’s not causing severe strain on our health care systems.”

State officials said Thursday that they would stop reporting daily COVID numbers, shifting to a new era of the pandemic when state and local agencies only report numbers once a week, on Wednesdays. Numbers will be updated on Friday before the new protocol goes into effect next week.

Thursday’s updates brought totals posted by the Southern Nevada Health District to 490,652 cases and 7,633 deaths.

As has been a trend most of this week, the number of cases reported was significantly higher than the two-week moving average. That metric declined again, dropping from 98 on Wednesday to 91. The two-week moving average of daily deaths, which held steady at four.

The county’s 14-day test positivity rate, which tracks the percentage of people tested who are found to be infected with COVID-19, decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 5 percent. That number has been falling for weeks, especially as testing demand has dropped. Many Nevadans have access to at-home test kits, which are not recorded in the state’s metrics.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

Another key metric showed a decline, as the number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in the county dropped from 209 on Wednesday to 203.

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.

Still, Morgan and state epidemiologist Melissa Peek-Bullock acknowledged that public health officials still have a lot of work to do in making sure COVID-19 is under control moving forward. Peek-Bullock said the state could change its reporting process in the future.

“Should there be an event where there is something, where an alarm bell needs to be raised or an intervention needs to occur, we’ll be sure to pivot and make sure that is communicated,” Peek-Bullock said.

Meanwhile, the state reported 553 new cases and 20 deaths, bringing totals posted by the state Department of Health and Human Services to 648,605 cases and 9,895 deaths.

Echoing the county’s trend, new cases were well above the two-week moving average, which nonetheless decreased by eight cases to 129. The two-week moving average of daily deaths held steady at six.

Other metrics also saw slight declines. The 14-day test positivity rate decreased by 0.3 percentage point to 5.5 percent, while the number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 decreased by five, to 247.

As of Thursday, state data showed that 56.73 percent of Nevadans 5 and older are fully vaccinated, compared with 56.10 percent in Clark County.

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

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