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State: ‘Too soon’ to see Thanksgiving impact on COVID cases

Updated November 30, 2020 - 6:30 pm

It’s too soon to see any spike in COVID-19 cases resulting from the Thanksgiving holiday, Nevada health officials said Monday, as the state reported 1,642 new cases and eight additional deaths, below the 14-day averages for these metrics.

The number of tests performed along with new confirmed cases tends to decline right after a holiday weekend but then “catch up” days later, Caleb Cage, director of the state’s COVID-19 response, said during a call with reporters.

Because it can be 14 days before a person exposed to the virus becomes ill, it will be a couple of weeks before any spike occurs that is associated with holiday travel or large gatherings.

“As the governor mentioned before the holiday, the actions of Nevadans on Thanksgiving and over the long weekend will be major factors to whether we see a surge or not following the holiday,” said Cage, urging residents to continue to stay home as much as possible and to limit interactions with others.

But Cage said that health officials expect the colder weather, which moves activities indoors, and back-to-back holidays could escalate the spread of the disease in the coming weeks.

The new figures from the state Department of Health and Human Services increase the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state since the start of the pandemic to 152,169 and fatalities to 2,144. The 14-day average for daily new cases is 1,710, while the 14-day average for deaths is 11.

Data guide: COVID-19’s effect on Nevada

The 14-day testing positivity rate climbed to 17.3 percent, according to the state — the highest level since the beginning of the pandemic.

On Monday, the Southern Nevada Health District reported 1,156 new cases and four additional deaths, increasing the cumulative number of cases in Clark County to 116,346 and total fatalities to 1,767.

The state flagged all Nevada counties but one, Storey County, for being at elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission, primarily the result of high test positivity rates as well as numbers of new cases per 100,000 in residents in the past 30 days.

Hospitalizations climb

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 statewide have reached a record high, Cage said, with 1,545 confirmed cases and suspected cases.

In Southern Nevada, “cases continue to climb but the healthcare infrastructure has enough elasticity to absorb the increased cases for the time being,” the Nevada Hospital Association said in a statement on its website.

“The south has experienced a 275 percent increase in confirmed hospitalized cases over the past 30 days,” the association said.

Northern Nevada hospitals are faring worse. “The healthcare infrastructure is now showing signs of serious strain in the northern region,” which has seen a 250 percent increase in patients in the past 30 days, according to the association.

“Patients are being treated within alternative care sites, hospitals are functioning under crisis standards of care and some intensive care level patients from rural communities are being transferred to hospitals in Idaho, Utah, California or Arizona for definitive treatment,” the association said about the northern region of the state.

Crisis standards of care refers to major changes in operations and the level of care that can be delivered. In Reno, Renown Regional Medical Center has converted a portion of its parking garage into a surge unit for COVID-19 patients.

In Southern Nevada, 82 percent of licensed beds and 69 percent of adult intensive care unit beds are occupied. In Northern Nevada, 72 percent of licensed beds and 54 percent of adult ICU beds are occupied. In rural Nevada, 51 percent of licensed beds and 76 percent of ICU beds are filled.

In Nye County, all 25 of its licensed beds are occupied, according to the hospital association. With 30 patients, Churchill County is exceeding its licensed 25-bed capacity.

New testing site

As new cases and hospitalizations have increased, so has the demand for testing.

On Monday, the testing operation at UNLV moved to the Stan Fulton Building at Flamingo Road and University Center Drive. The site will operate from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.

Appointments are recommended at both the UNLV and Cashman Center sites. Appointments can be scheduled through UMC’s website at umcsn.com or by calling 702-383-2619.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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