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A year after its first COVID-19 case, Nevada logs its 295,460th

Updated March 5, 2021 - 5:12 pm

From one to 295,460.

That’s how far COVID-19 has spread in Nevada since the first confirmed case of the disease was announced a year ago Friday.

That first case, announced in the morning by the Southern Nevada Health District, was followed by a second later that same day in Washoe County.

By the end of the month, more than 100 Nevadans had been diagnosed and 17 had died.

The pace of the spread has slowed markedly in recent months and all major disease metrics are currently on a downward slope following the winter spike.

But the cumulative totals posted Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services serve as a reminder of the virus’ relentless transmissibility: 295,460 COVID-19 cases in Nevada.

Though most people who are infected develop only mild to moderate symptoms, the virus can be deadly, particularly those with underlying health issues and older adults. To date, 5,020 people have died of COVID-19 in the state.

‘Determined, resilient and strong’

In a statement released Friday, Gov. Steve Sisolak said that Nevadans have “remained determined, resilient and strong” over the stressful year.

“Through all the ups and downs, Nevadans have come together to support our families, friends and other loved ones through unimaginable tragedies,” he said. “As of today, we have lost more than 5,000 of our fellow Nevadans to this devastating virus. That’s 5,000 of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. The loss is incalculable. The devastation will leave a permanent mark.”

On Thursday, when it was reported that Nevada had surpassed 5,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, Sisolak ordered state flags be flown at half-staff through sunset Friday.

During a phone call with reporters on Friday, Caleb Cage, the state’s COVID-19 response director, said the biggest challenge for state officials during the pandemic has been the same one everyone faces — balancing a “significant public health crisis” with normal life.

“I’ve been really proud of how different communities and difference aspects of our society here in the state of Nevada have pulled together to share ownership and the burden that we all face collectively,” Cage said. “To make sure that we get to get through this together, to make sure we get through this without leaving people behind, and to make sure that we do it with a unified vision of getting Nevada back to the new normal as quickly as possible with as little harm to vulnerable populations or to people who could, and who have, died (from) this virus.”

Although the first cases were reported in early March 2020, testing for the disease caused by the coronavirus did not accelerate in the state until May, data posted to the state’s coronavirus website indicate. The month of June saw the two-week average of daily reported cases skyrocket from less than 150 to about 600.

Summer peak, then a winter mountain

The peak of new cases during the summer spike occurred on July 18, when 1,249 were reported, according to state data.

After a brief lull in the fall, metrics began to climb again into the winter, with the two-week average of daily new cases reaching a high of 2,716 on Dec. 11 — more than twice the level of the summer peak.

Both new cases and deaths, which reached a high of 40 in late December and early January, have declined significantly since then, according to state data.

But Friday’s report added to a recent stall in the decline in new cases, with 391 added over the preceding day. That was significantly higher than the current two-week average of daily reported cases, which dropped to 263.

Daily fatalities also have remained above the moving two-week average in recent days, with the 15 additional deaths reported Friday, about twice average of seven over the period.

The state’s two-week positivity rate, which essentially tracks how many people tested are infected with the virus, remained unchanged at 6.9 percent.

Nevada’s two-week average of daily tests administered in the state reached a high of 15,638 on Nov. 25, according to state data. The rate has been steadily declining since mid-January, when other disease metrics also started decreasing. It stood at 4,296 on Friday.

The Nevada Hospital Association reported 393 people in Nevada were hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday’s update, which is 14 fewer than the day before. Hospitalizations have followed the two-spike pattern seen in other metrics throughout the pandemic, and have been steadily declining since reaching a high of 2,126 in late December.

Clark County has seen about 77.2 percent of reported cases in the state and about 78 percent of deaths as of Friday.

There were 312 new cases and 15 additional fatalities reported in Clark County on Friday. The updated figures posted to the Southern Nevada Health District’s coronavirus website brought totals to 228,083 cases and 3,918 deaths in the county since the pandemic began.

The county’s 14-day positivity rate dropped to 7.5 percent on Friday, which is a 0.2-percentage-point decrease from the day prior. The rate was 0.6 percentage points higher than the state’s average.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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