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Staffing crisis at Clark County hospitals extends into second week

Updated January 13, 2022 - 6:39 am

An increasing number of sick employees and a continuing rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations have extended a staffing crisis at Southern Nevada hospitals for a second week, and there’s no indication that the current wave of the disease has peaked, the Nevada Hospital Association said Wednesday.

“The NHA continues to work with state government officials to scope the problem and seek solutions that can be immediately implemented,” the trade group said in its weekly COVID-19 update. “In the meantime, hospitals continue to rely on overtime, team nursing, and other mitigation steps, realizing that these short-term solutions are not sustainable between the increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations coupled with the most challenging staff sick call rates.”

The group also said ICU capacity in Southern Nevada has been increased to “warning” status — one step below crisis mode in the group’s five-tier threat assessment rating system — as the highly contagious omicron variant of the new coronavirus continues to spread.

The daily update on Clark County’s COVID-19 metrics Wednesday had nothing in it to cheer hospital executives and workers.

Related: Need a COVID test? Locations, hours added to meet demand

State data showed that 1,463 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in Clark County, an increase of 29 from Tuesday’s update. That number is now just 138 patients below the record high of 1,601 set during last winter’s surge of the disease.

The rising caseload attributed to the highly contagious omicron variant is impacting not just COVID-19 patients and hospital workers but anyone who experiences a medical emergency as well as those with lesser injuries or illnesses, public health officials say.

Other county metrics

Other metrics for the county on Wednesday showed:

■ 4,946 new coronavirus cases — the second-highest total of the pandemic — and 17 deaths. That brought cumulative totals posted by the Southern Nevada Health District to 409,167 cases and 6,588 deaths.

■ The county’s 14-day test positivity rate stood at 33.4 percent on Wednesday, an increase of 2.1 percentage points from the previous day. That means that one of every three residents getting tested for COVID-19 are found to be infected.

New cases were well above the two-week moving average of 3,182 per day, which increased by two cases. Deaths were more than four times above the two-week moving average of four, which remained unchanged.

Fatalities have generally stayed flat while other metrics have climbed sharply in recent weeks, with most passing the levels seen during the peak of last winter’s surge.

The omicron variant is extremely transmissible but is less likely to cause serious illness than previous variants, public health experts say.

But the extreme rise in cases has nonetheless strained local hospitals, especially as people swarm emergency rooms looking for COVID-19 tests or for minor health problems.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

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.

State numbers

Here are the figures reported on Wednesday for Nevada, reported by the Department of Health and Human Services.

■ 5,913 new cases and 23 new deaths over the preceding day, bringing totals to 536,257 cases and 8,584 deaths.

■ 14-day moving averages stood at 3,730 daily new cases and five deaths per day.

■ 14-day test positivity rate of 30.5 percent, an increase of 2.0 percentage points from Tuesday.

■ 1,626 people currently hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

■ Rate of eligible Nevadans 5 and older who are fully vaccinated: 55.06 percent (vs. 54.40 percent in Clark County).

■ 14-day moving average of COVID-19 tests conducted in Nevada: 14,129, over 3,000 more per day than this time last month.

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

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