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Surge in Nevada’s key COVID-19 metrics now in second month

Updated July 16, 2021 - 5:02 pm

Nevada’s key COVID-19 metrics ended the week Friday as they began it, with new cases, hospitalizations and the test positivity rate all at high levels — especially in Clark County — and continuing to rise.

Updated figures posted by the Department of Health and Human Services on the state’s coronavirus website added 866 new coronavirus cases and six deaths. The data collected over the preceding day brought totals in the state to 343,096 cases and 5,758 deaths.

New COVID-19 cases remained well above the moving 14-day average of daily reported cases, which increased to 539. The average has been climbing steadily for more than a month, and has more than quadrupled since a recent low of 132 reported on June 10, state data shows.

Fatalities reported Friday also were higher than the moving two-week average of three deaths per day.

Unlike Nevada’s other major disease metrics, fatalities have remained relatively flat in recent weeks, staying at either three for most of June and then briefly rising to four in July. However, Thursday’s 15 reported deaths was the highest single-day increase in fatalities since April, state data shows.

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.

The state’s two-week test positivity rate, which essentially tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, continued its recent climb, jumping 0.4 percentage points to 11.3 percent.

Positivity rate up 24 straight days

The rate has been steadily increasing since it hit a recent low of 3.3 percent reported on June 10, and had risen every day for the past 24 days, according to state data.

Friday was the first time the rate has surpassed 11 percent since mid-February, according to state data. The number is more than double 5.0 percent, the benchmark recommended by the World Health Organization to prevent the spread of the virus.

As of Friday’s report, 819 people in Nevada were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, an increase of 48 higher from the day prior. Hospitalizations are now at levels not seen since mid-February and have nearly quadrupled since reaching a recent low of 209 reported June 13, state data shows.

The only bright spot in the recent data is the state’s vaccination numbers, which state officials said Thursday have increased in recent weeks following Gov. Steve Sisolak’s announcement of the “Vax Nevada Days” prize giveaway for eligible vaccinated residents. Last week, they said, Nevada’s rate of initiated vaccinations hit 2 percent, well above the national average of 1.5 percent. And initiated vaccinations have jumped 32 percent since Sisolak’s June 17 announcement, with the greatest increase among 12- to 17-year-olds, they said.

Officials say much of the recent increases in cases, hospitalizations and the positivity rate is attributable to the presence of the more-contagious delta coronavirus variant, especially in Clark County.

In light of the rising metrics, the Southern Nevada Health District on Friday recommended that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should resume wearing face masks in crowded indoor public places where they may have contact with people who aren’t fully vaccinated.

No signs of a slowdown

“At this point we don’t have any evidence of when the current trend in the number of cases will decrease,” Dr. Fermin Leguen, the district health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District, told reporters during a news conference Friday afternoon.

But Leguen said health officials are hopeful that the push to get more people vaccinated and bringing back masks in crowded indoor settings will help reverse the recent increased transmission risk in the county.

The health district also reported 780 new coronavirus cases and five additional deaths in Clark County on Friday, according to data posted to the health district’s coronavirus website.

Totals for the county rose to 268,514 cases and 4,563 deaths.

The district reported Thursday that it has recorded 122 cases in Clark County of people who have been hospitalized for the coronavirus despite being fully vaccinated. Of those, 18 have died. In two other instances, people who had been vaccinated died from COVID-19 without being hospitalized, the district said.

The majority of the breakthrough cases were among people 65 or older, and 84 percent of people with a breakthrough case had an underlying medical condition, according to the county data.

The county’s two-week test positivity rate also has been climbing steeply in recent weeks and jumped again Friday by 0.9 percentage points, reaching 12.7 percent.

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

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