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Nevada sees biggest 1-day increase in COVID-19 deaths since Feb. 20

Updated July 21, 2021 - 8:10 pm

Nevada on Wednesday reported 931 new coronavirus cases and 28 deaths over the preceding day — the latter a concerning number that reflected two days of delayed reporting.

The fatalities reported by the Department of Health and Human Services — the highest single-day increase since Feb. 20 — raised the state death toll from the disease to 5,789 and doubled the 14-day moving average of daily deaths from two to four.

The report came a day after the department reported no deaths, and a spokeswoman for the agency confirmed that the fatalities figure covered two days.

New COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday increased the state total to 347,098 cases. New cases were well above the two-week moving average, which increased from 652 to 675. The rate has been rising steadily since it hit a low of 132 cases per day on June 5, according to state data.

Nevada’s two-week positivity rate, which essentially tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, also continued its recent significant rise, jumping 0.2 percentage points to 12.6 percent. The rate has nearly quadrupled since hitting its recent low of 3.3 percent on June 9.

The data also showed that 994 people with either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 were hospitalized in the state, an increase of 64 from Tuesday’s report. Hospitalizations also have been climbing since reaching a recent low of 209 on June 12.

Hospitalizations trend younger

Those being hospitalized also tend to be younger than those seen early in the pandemic. The Nevada Hospital Association reported Wednesday that 51 percent of COVID-19 related hospitalizations are in people aged 30-59, while the 60-79 age group that accounted for the vast majority of admissions a year ago now make up 33 percent of coronavirus patients.

The trade group noted that the current surge is approaching the peak of Nevada’s “second wave” last summer, which reached a high of 1,147 hospitalizations.

State and county health agencies often redistribute the 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.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

The rising metrics have drawn attention in Washington, where the Biden administration has designated Southern Nevada a “sustained hotspot” for COVID-19 transmission. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra plans to visit Las Vegas on Thursday to meet with public health officials and discuss the state’s response to the recent surge. He’ll also tour a Clark County Fire Department training facility and a vaccination site.

The metrics also have been noticed by local politicians, prompting the Clark County Commission on Tuesday to enact a mask mandate for employees who work in public indoor spaces in the county. Tourists and members of the public are not required to mask up, despite a Friday recommendation from the Southern Nevada Health District that they do so.

Public health officials have said that the presence in the state of the delta variant, a more contagious form of the coronavirus, has been largely driving the growth in new cases and hospitalizations, with unvaccinated residents accounting for nearly all of the new infections.

The delta variant now is responsible for 83 percent of new cases in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while it accounted for 73.8 percent of COVID samples genetically sequenced in Nevada since July 16, according to the state. In Clark County, the delta variant accounted for 76 percent of samples collected in July, a significant increase from the 59 percent reported in June.

Officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of getting more people vaccinated to stem the spread of the disease. As of Wednesday’s report, just 46.67 percent of Nevadans 12 and older had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Clark County numbers are similar and remain well short of the 60 percent threshold that commissioners originally set for the county’s full reopening on June 1.

‘The best way to mitigate spread’

Dr. Ellie Graeden of Talus Analytics echoed that message at a state news briefing on Wednesday.

“By far vaccination is the best way to mitigate spread,” she said. “It is far more effective than masking. We can all be doing more to protect our children and protect those who are immunocompromised and can’t get vaccinated by getting vaccinated if you can.”

The Southern Nevada Health District, meanwhile, reported 842 new COVID-19 cases in Clark County on Wednesday, bringing the local case total to 272,152. It also reported 28 of the state’s deaths, bringing the number of deaths in the county to 4,592.

The county’s 14-day positivity rate also continued to climb, increasing to 14.0 percent.

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

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