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Sisolak orders flags to half-staff as Nevada tops 5K COVID-19 deaths

Updated March 4, 2021 - 5:38 pm

Gov. Steve Sisolak on Thursday ordered state flags flown at half-staff as Nevada surpassed 5,000 coronavirus deaths on the eve of the anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the state.

The Department of Health and Human Services posted updated figures on its coronavirus website Thursday showing 18 deaths over the preceding day. That brought the cumulative total of fatalities in the state to 5,005.

The newly reported deaths were well above the moving 14-day average of daily reported fatalities, which remained at seven.

There were also 385 new COVID-19 cases reported in the state, which brought the cumulative case count to 295,069. The new cases were also well above the moving two-week average of daily reported cases, which dropped to 272.

The averages for cases and deaths have both been trending down since at least mid-January, though the state has reported several above-average figures for both in recent days, according to state data.

Public health experts note that the vast majority of COVID-19 patients develop only mild to moderate symptoms and fully recover within two weeks. But the disease can be deadly for some, particularly older adults and those with underlying health conditions.

The deaths in the state represent a little less than 1.7 percent of the total number of cases. And the state’s COVID-19 death rate of 156 per 100,000 residents places Nevada right at the U.S. average.

County death rate 12th-highest

Clark County’s death rate is slightly higher — 166 per 100,000 residents — placing the county 12th-highest in the U.S. in COVID-19 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 78 percent of deaths in Nevada have occurred in Clark County, according to state data.

Sisolak marked the milestone by asking all Nevadans to participate in a moment of silence or lighting of a candle at 6 p.m. in honor of the lives lost.

Additionally, the governor said in a statement that he has ordered state of Nevada flags to be flown at half-staff at the Capitol and state public buildings and grounds until sunset on Friday.

He also released a video tribute to the state’s COVID-19 victims showing Sisolak and first lady Kathy Sisolak participating in a candlelight vigil with Nevada National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Ondra L. Berry, Debra Adornetto-Garcia, chief nursing officer of Renown Health, and Dr. Tony Slonim, president and CEO of Renown.

“The lighting of the candles symbolizes the spirits that will continue to live on and give us hope among the darkness. As we acknowledge the scale of this tragedy that grips our state, I ask Nevadans to keep in your hearts those who have passed away and the families that have been affected by this virus,” Sisolak said in the release. “To the families and loved ones, Kathy and I send our love and condolences to you and know that our state will forever keep their legacy and their memory near our hearts.”

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

Word of the 5,000th death comes as major metrics for tracking the outbreak in the state have been trending lower, though state officials stress that Nevadans should not relax their adherence to mitigation measures like mask wearing and social distancing out of the mistaken belief that the pandemic is over.

Metrics trending lower

While two of the key metrics state officials use to monitor the trajectory of the outbreak rose on the day, the state’s two-week positivity rate, which essentially tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, continued its decline, dropping by 0.2 percentage point to 6.9 percent.

Hospitalizations have also been decreasing since January, state officials have reported. As of Thursday’s report, there were 407 people in Nevada hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, 33 fewer than the day before.

The state and county health agencies often redistribute 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.

Clark County on Thursday reported 256 new cases and 16 additional deaths, according to data posted to the Southern Nevada Health District’s coronavirus website.

The updated figures brought totals in the county to 227,771 cases and 3,903 deaths.

The county’s 14-day positivity rate dropped to 7.7 percent on Thursday, which is a 0.2-percentage-point decrease from the day prior. The rate remained 0.8 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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