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COVID-19 metrics continue decline, offering hope surge has peaked

Updated January 25, 2022 - 5:26 pm

Clark County’s major COVID-19 metrics have dropped consistently for nearly a week, providing more evidence that the county has already hit the peak of the current surge.

The county reported 3,159 new coronavirus cases and 34 deaths Tuesday, bringing totals posted by the Southern Nevada Health District to 461,310 cases and 6,767 deaths.

New cases were above the two-week moving average, which decreased sharply from 3,130 on Monday to 2,849. The two-week moving average of daily fatalities increased from five to seven.

The 14-day test positivity rate, which tracks the number of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, dropped for the fourth straight day. Public health officials have said the test positivity rate is often the first indicator that a surge is starting or ending, while other numbers can lag behind.

The rate stood at 36.7 percent Tuesday, 0.8 percentage point less than Monday.

Experts have said they expect the current surge — driven by the highly contagious omicron variant — to end quickly once it reaches the peak. That follows data from South Africa and Europe, which found that the wave looks more like an icicle once it is complete: a rapid rise in cases, then a swift fall from the peak.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

Clark County has seen consistent but not massive declines in key metrics, but officials have warned it is still too early to make any sweeping conclusions about the current situation.

Meanwhile, state officials announced Tuesday afternoon that the entire Silver State will remain under a mask mandate for at least the next two weeks.

While the state tracks most of its COVID-19 metrics using a 14-day moving average, its mask mandate is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s seven-day average.

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.

CDC data showed that the entire state is currently in the “high” transmission tier.

Clark County showed a significant gain in seven-day test positivity rate, though. That number stood at 33.72 percent Tuesday afternoon, 10 percentage points lower than last week. But the case rate was significantly higher than last week, at 1,801.9 per 100,000 people. It was unclear why the numbers had gone in opposite directions.

Meanwhile, the state reported 3,040 new cases and 37 deaths, bringing totals posted by the state Department of Health and Human Services to 604,173 cases and 8,797 deaths. It was unclear why the state reported a smaller number of new cases than Clark County.

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.

New cases statewide were below the two-week moving average, which dropped from 4,418 on Monday to 3,818. The two-week moving average of daily fatalities increased from seven to nine.

Of the state’s other closely watched metrics, the 14-day test positivity rate decreased 0.2 percentage point to 35.1 percent, while the number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases increased by nine to 1,971.

As of Tuesday, state data showed that 55.58 percent of Nevadans 5 and older had been fully vaccinated, compared with 54.95 percent in Clark County.

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

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