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Nevada sets record for COVID deaths in a day

Updated December 3, 2020 - 2:55 pm

Nevada on Thursday reported the most coronavirus deaths in a single day, making this the deadliest week of the pandemic in the state.

Forty-eight deaths were recorded in Nevada over the preceding day, far above the seven-day average of 22, the state Department of Health and Human Services reported on its website. The agency on Wednesday reported 35 deaths, at the time the second-highest number of deaths in a day.

The previous record of deaths reported in one day — 38 — was set on Aug. 20, state data shows.

Also, an additional 2,536 COVID-19 cases were reported in the state on Thursday, well above the moving seven-day average of 2,107 new cases.

The updated figures brought totals in the state to 159,532 cases and 2,249 deaths.

The rising caseload is mirrored in hospitalization data. As of Wednesday, a record high 1,652 people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. That total dropped slightly on Thursday to 1,645 hospitalizations, which is the second-highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began, state data shows.

As of Thursday, COVID-19 cases made up 29 percent of all hospitalizations in the state and 36 percent of occupants of licensed ICU beds, according to the Nevada Hospital Association.

Deadliest week of pandemic

Although it is only Thursday, this week has already seen 130 deaths, making it the deadliest since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Nevada in early March.

The highest previous death toll in a week was 128 from Aug. 16 to Aug. 22.

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday tweeted that the milestone was a “somber day in Nevada.”

“That’s 48 additional Nevada families who will be missing a loved one this holiday season,” he said. “Please, wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing.”

The state’s positivity rate, calculated by the Review-Journal as the cumulative cases divided by people who have been tested since the start of the pandemic, reached 15.97 percent on Thursday, a 0.13 percentage point increase from the previous day.

The positivity rate and the daily increase in new cases has been increasing since mid-September.

The state health department calculates a positivity rate over a two-week period, and that rate rose by 0.5 percentage points on Thursday to 18.1 percent. The rate is at the highest level since the state began reporting the statistic in mid-October.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

Clark County on Thursday reported 1,854 new cases and 18 additional deaths, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

Cumulative totals for Clark County rose to 121,863 cases and 1,817 deaths. That data is reflected in the state report.

Day 10 of ‘pause’

With the state on day 10 of a 21-day “pause,” a condition accompanied by tightened COVID restrictions ordered last week by Sisolak, Thursday’s weekly meeting of the state COVID mitigation task force involved no new action, only discussion.

A task force member from the Nevada Hospital Association did take time to clarify a point made in a press release the group issued Tuesday that some interpreted as open criticism of the state’s COVID policy – all the more so after the association edited the release to remove the line.

Commenting on COVID prevention measures, the hospital association had written that “on and off again closures appear to be building animosity and apathy among the public and are proving ineffective,” which some read as a repudiation of the governor’s order tightening rules on public gatherings and business closures in the face of a resurgent COVID-19.

Sisolak, asked about the comment in a briefing Wednesday, dismissed it as innocuous.

Christopher Lake, the hospital association’s executive director of community resilience, said Thursday that he wrote the sentence but did not intend it as criticism, adding that it “was not specific to Nevada and it was intended to communicate some of the obstacles that public health (officials) and hospitals and other organizations have in fighting this disease.”

When the association saw it was “creating a distraction,” it removed it, Lake said.

“When I wrote that sentence I did not think it was nearly as provocative as it turned out to be, particularly in the face of millions of people literally getting on airplanes, the day after the CDC issued a no travel request,” Lake said, apologizing for any distraction he created. “I want to get it out there in the public as to what the intent was. It was not a political statement at all and it was not specific to Nevada, as well, either.”

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

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