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COVID-19 test positivity rate jumps sharply in Clark County

Clark County on Friday reported 483 new COVID-19 cases and 14 deaths from the disease during the previous day as well as a sharp jump in its test positivity rate.

Updated figures posted online by the Southern Nevada Health District pushed totals to 345,652 cases and 6,227 deaths in the county since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.

New cases were well above the 14-day moving average of 297, four more than on Thursday, state data showed.

Fatalities were more than three times the two-week moving average of four, which was unchanged from the previous day.

The county’s test positivity rate, which tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, jumped by 0.3 percentage points from the previous day to 6.8 percent.

The number of hospital beds occupied by patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in the county stood at 530, 34 fewer than in Thursday’s update.

Update on breakthrough cases

The health district also updated its reporting on so-called breakthrough cases Friday, adding 711 new cases over the past week involving individuals considered fully vaccinated. Of those, 44 required hospitalization and eight died, it said.

That raised breakthrough totals in the county to 14,187 cases, 731 hospitalizations and 218 deaths. Most of the deaths — 190 — occurred in residents ages 65 and above.

The health district data continue to show that the virus is killing the unvaccinated at a much greater rate: 19 deaths per 100,000 among the vaccinated, compared to 511 per 100,000 among the unvaccinated.

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.

The longer-term indicators show that the county’s key COVID-19 metrics have been mixed recently after rising for much of November.

The two-week moving average of new cases, for example, is more than 9 percent lower now than the 328 reported on Nov. 5.

But the average for deaths was unchanged on Friday from the 4 per day reported on Nov. 5, while hospitalizations and the test positivity rate both have risen over the period, with the positivity rate climbing 0.9 percentage points and the number of hospitalizations jumping by 22 from the 508 reported at the time.

Holidays, omicron add to uncertainty

The likely impact of holiday gatherings and the expected arrival in the state of the more-transmissible omicron variant are adding to the uncertainty over whether another surge of the disease caused by the new coronavirus may be in the offing.

“We should be concerned about a surge about SARS-COV2 in the wintertime … but that was true before omicron,” Dr. Mark Pandori, director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, said at a Thursday news briefing:

No cases of omicron have been detected in Clark County or Nevada, but at least eight states had reported cases as of Friday.

But the county is considered “high” risk for the virus’ transmission under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s classification system. On Thursday, officials announced that the state’s face mask mandate will continue into early 2022.

Medical professionals continue to stress the importance of COVID jabs and booster shots to tamper down the pandemic, even though there are still questions about whether the omicron mutation may have ways of avoiding the body’s immune response.

As of Friday’s update, 51.94 percent of Clark County residents 5 and older had been vaccinated against the disease, compared to 52.68 percent for the state as a whole, state data showed.

Nevada as a whole has reported 459,957 cases since the onset of the pandemic, with 8,070 deaths, state data shows. The state added 709 COVID-19 cases and 38 deaths in Friday’s update.

Statewide, the 14-day moving average of new cases stood at 417, with a test positivity rate of 7.3 percent and a two-week daily average of six deaths each day, state data shows. A total of 648 hospital beds in Nevada were occupied by people with confirmed or suspected COVID cases.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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