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COVID-19 metrics for Clark County send mixed signals

Clark County on Wednesday reported 548 new coronavirus cases and 12 deaths as its major metrics for the disease showed mixed signals.

Updated figures posted by the Southern Nevada Health District pushed totals in the county to 344,476 cases and 6,202 deaths.

New cases were well above the two-week moving average, which nonetheless decreased by four to 279 per day. The two-week moving average of daily fatalities in the county increased for the second straight day, climbing by one to four.

The number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in the county increased by 24, to 562, according to data from the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The county’s 14-day test positivity rate, which tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, held steady at 6.7 percent for the second straight day.

After falling fairly steadily since mid- to late August, new cases, hospitalizations and the positivity rate have risen somewhat since the beginning of November. But state and local health officials say it’s not yet clear whether the county and state are in the early stages of another surge of the disease.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

The state, meanwhile, reported 726 new COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths during the preceding day. That brought totals posted for the Silver State to 458,369 cases and 8,032 deaths.

Nevada’s 14-day moving average of new cases decreased to 393 per day from 398 on Tuesday. The two-week average for fatalities increased by one to six per day.

State and county health agencies often redistribute 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.

Of the state’s other closely watched metrics, the two-week test positivity rate held steady at 7.2 percent, while the number of people in Nevada hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases rose to 671, 20 more than on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday’s report, state data show that 52.52 percent of Nevadans 5 and older had been fully vaccinated, compared with 51.78 percent in Clark County. That number fluctuates widely throughout the state.

Washoe County has the state’s highest vaccination rate, at 60.68 percent, while Storey County has the lowest at 19.68 percent.

Kevin Dick, district health officer for the Washoe County health district, noted at a Wednesday briefing that the Northern Nevada county is the only one in the state with more than 60 percent of its eligible residents vaccinated. He attributed that the health officials and community partners in the area, also noting that rural counties and Clark County face different challenges to get people vaccinated.

“In Clark County, it’s a different type of a news environment,” he said. “There’s so much happening in Las Vegas and the bigger city type environment that there’s a lot more noise going on as far as public health messaging. And I think we’ve been fortunate here in Washoe County.”

The county is seeing increased demand for vaccines, officials said, as the holiday season kicks off and the omicron variant has made its way to the United States.

While the variant has not yet been detected in the county, Dick said he’s expecting it to detected soon.

“I would expect that we would have omicron appear here,” he said. “That is quite likely.”

Contact Jonah Dylan at jdylan@reviewjournal.com. Follow @TheJonahDylan on Twitter.

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