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Nevada’s key COVID-19 metrics resume slow march to lower ground

Updated September 15, 2021 - 4:45 pm

Nevada on Wednesday reported 1,046 new coronavirus cases and 26 deaths over the preceding day as state officials struck a more concerned tone about hospitalization numbers in the state.

Data posted by the state Department of Health and Human Services on the state’s coronavirus website pushed statewide totals to 407,258 cases and 6,789 deaths.

New COVID-19 cases were well above the two-week moving average of 855. The average, however, recorded its second-straight decline after rising on Friday and again on Monday.

Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

Deaths were nearly triple the moving two-week average, which declined by one to 10 fatalities per 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, held steady at 11.5 percent, according to state data. The rate declined steeply from its recent high of 16.4 percent on Aug. 13 before flattening over the past few weeks.

Hospitalizations inch lower

Nevada also reported that 1,190 people in the state were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, five fewer than the previous day. The number of hospitalizations in the state has been slowly decreasing for weeks, though hospitals in the northern and central part of the state, in particular, continue to struggle with capacity and staffing issues.

Positivity rates show how the pandemic has shifted over the past month. While Clark County was ground zero of the state outbreak in mid-August, the surge is now hitting other parts of the state harder.

Related: Where are hospital and ICU beds available in the Las Vegas Valley?

Washoe County, for example, reported a test positivity rate of 20.0 percent on Wednesday, well above the state’s recent peak. That number has been slowly growing for several weeks, even as the county continued to add to its above-average vaccination rate. As of Wednesday, 62.54 percent of county residents 12 and older had been fully vaccinated, well above the state rate of 53.55 percent.

Though Washoe County has an above-average vaccination rate, county health officer Kevin Dick said Wednesday that more work needs to be done.

“We have members of our community pointing at us and blaming us for what’s going on, saying it’s not even true, and resisting doing the simple thing that they can do to help us get out of this, which is to help us get vaccinated,” he said.

Nye County, which saw its positivity rate skyrocket to over 32 percent just a few weeks ago, has been improving recently, but remains at 21.9 percent. That’s four times the 5.0 percent level recommended by the World Health Organization to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Metrics yet to recover lost ground

Despite the recent improvements in the state’s key COVID metrics, they have yet to return to the levels seen prior to the summer surge, which experts say was driven by the delta variant of the new coronavirus.

Remembering those we’ve lost to COVID-19

As a result, all but one of Nevada’s 17 counties are now listed as having “high” risk of transmission of the disease, and the lone exception — White Pine County — has “substantial” transmission risk. Those are the two highest categories in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and means a mask mandate remains in effect throughout the entire state for the second straight week.

The state reinstituted a mask mandate in crowded indoor public spaces for counties that have “high or substantial” rates of transmission on July 30, about two weeks before the state’s numbers started to flatten and drop.

The Southern Nevada Health District on Wednesday also reported 487 cases and 19 deaths over the preceding day. That brought county totals to 312,821 cases and 5,402 deaths.

Clark County’s two-week test positivity rate, which has dropped rapidly in recent weeks, declined 0.1 percentage point to 8.9 percent.

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

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