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Major COVID-19 metrics improve, but Nevada officials suspect a lull

Updated December 17, 2020 - 3:36 pm

Nevada reported improvement Thursday in most of the major COVID-19 metrics it tracks, but state officials warned that the slowdown observed in recent days may be temporary.

The 2,281 new coronavirus cases reported by the state Health and Human Services Department was the smallest gain in a week. Deaths and hospitalizations both dropped and the positivity rate — a measurement of the proportion of confirmed cases among those tested — continued to slide for an eighth straight day.

Caleb Cage, who directs the state’s response to the pandemic, and Kyra Morgan, the chief state biostatistician, acknowledged that the positivity rate’s decline was the longest since September, but said it’s too soon to label it a trend.

“While we are experiencing something that looks like stabilization or potential towards a stabilization trend… we’re still highly elevated and we could very easily start trending back upwards here in the near term as well,” Cage said at the weekly COVID-19 Task Force meeting in Carson City.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

The upcoming holidays also could fuel another wave of the virus, they said.

The health department’s daily update showed 2,281 new COVID-19 cases over the preceding day along with 20 deaths, according to state data.

Case total approaching 200K

The updated figures brought totals in the state to 196,379 cases and 2,673 deaths.

The new case number was the lowest reported since Dec. 10, when 2,193 infections were logged.

The moving seven-day average of daily reported cases increased, reaching 2,550. The figure remains well above the level of two weeks ago — when the average was at 2,302 — and it has increased on seven of the past 14 days, state data shows.

The seven-day average of daily recorded deaths decreased from 38 to 34 on Thursday, one day after a record 57 deaths were recorded. It was the first time in eight days that the average has decreased.

The state’s two-week positivity rate registered its eighth-straight decline, reaching 20.6 percent, a 0.1 percentage point decrease from the previous day.

The number of patients in Nevada hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases also decreased slightly, falling 33 from the previous day to 1,975. That was down from the recent peak of 2,025 reached Monday.

Hospitalizations have been rising steadily in the state since mid-September. Two weeks ago, there were only 1,678 COVID-19 hospitalized in Nevada.

Hospitalizations in Southern Nevada also decreased in the daily report to 1,529 — 21 fewer than the preceding day, state data show. Two weeks ago, only 1,265 people with the disease were hospitalized at regional hospitals.

ICU occupancy high in south

Statewide, there are 416 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, occupying 40 percent of all ICU beds, according to data from the Nevada Hospital Association. Overall, ICU beds are 75 percent full in the state.

Southern Nevada is experiencing higher percentages of ICU hospitalizations, with 321 coronavirus patients in intensive care, which is 42 percent of all ICU patients. Throughout the region, 79 percent of ICU beds are occupied, according to the hospital association.

Clark County on Thursday reported 1,688 additional coronavirus cases, along with 14 new fatalities, according to the Southern Nevada Health District’s coronavirus website. Those figures are included in the state reporting.

The updated figures brought totals in the county to 148,411 cases and 2,094 deaths.

In a statement released Thursday, the county urged Southern Nevadan’s to take health precautions during the upcoming holidays.

“As the community continues to respond to the pandemic this holiday season, the Health District recommends celebrating only with people who share the same home,” the statement said. “Those who will still plan events with people outside their household are strongly encouraged to take steps to lower the risk of infection at these gatherings.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Colton Lochhead contributed to this report.

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