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Record number of new COVID-19 cases in Nevada raises ‘surge’ concerns

Updated January 7, 2021 - 5:06 pm

Nevada reported a record number 3,402 new coronavirus cases over the preceding day, according to state data posted Thursday, raising concerns that a predicted “surge on top of a surge” could be developing.

The one-day boom in new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, reported on the Department of Health and Human Services’ coronavirus website, came a day after the state set a new record for daily deaths with 60.

The number of new cases reported Thursday was almost double the two-week moving average of new cases — 1,648 — calculated by the state.

It was just the fourth time that the daily total of new cases in the state surpassed 3,000. The others were on Nov. 25, when 3,159 cases were recorded, Dec. 9, 3,053 cases, and the previous mark of 3,194 reported on Dec. 5.

The state also reported 44 new deaths from COVID-19, far higher than the moving 14-day daily average of 18.

The updated figures brought totals in the state to 240,795 cases and 3,339 deaths.

Meanwhile, the state’s two-week positivity rate, which essentially tracks the percentage of people tested who are confirmed to have COVID-19, increased by 0.4 percentage points, to 20.6 percent, according to the state data.

State public health officials have been warning for weeks that they expect to see a surge in tests, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths as a result of exposures at gatherings over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. But given that daily numbers can vary widely, Thursday’s report could be nothing more than an aberration.

Caleb Cage, director of the state’s COVID-19 response, has said at recent briefings for reporters that while most key metrics in the state have stabilized in recent weeks, they have done so at near-record high levels. Any further surge in caseloads — “a surge on top of a surge,” as he put it — could overwhelm the state’s hospitals.

There is little breathing room. The Nevada Hospital Association on Thursday reported that 85 percent of all staffed hospital beds in Southern Nevada were occupied — the highest percentage since mid-November. About 83 percent of all licensed beds throughout the state were occupied as of Thursday.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

Hospitalizations of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients declined by one over the preceding day, to 1,918, according to the state data.

In a statement posted Thursday, the Nevada Hospital Association said COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to “level off” throughout the state.

“This has been providing the hospital infrastructure a much-needed reprieve and has kept hospitals and ICUs from being overwhelmed throughout the state,” the association said. “Influenza also has not placed heavy demands on hospitals to date.”

Of all emergency room visits, about 18 to 21 percent over the past month have been for coronavirus-related complaints, the statement said.

While Southern Nevada continues to see high occupancy levels, northern portions of the state are experiencing “significant declines in required hospitalizations, intensive care units and necessary mechanical ventilator requirements,” the statement said.

About 81 percent of adult intensive care beds in Southern Nevada were occupied as of Thursday, and about 45 percent of ICU patients in the region are hospitalized for COVID-19, according to data from the Nevada Hospital Association.

Throughout the state, 74 percent of ICU beds were occupied as of Thursday. Of all intensive care patients in the state, 39 percent are hospitalized for COVID-19.

Clark County on Thursday reported 2,923 new cases and 28 additional deaths, according to data posted to the Southern Nevada Health District’s coronavirus website. The updated figures brought totals in the county to 183,447 cases and 2,524 deaths.

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

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