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COVID-19 Update: Infection and Death Rates Continue to Creep Up

As has become our painful “new normal” all over again, Nevada’s COVID-19 stats continue to worsen. Here’s an update on where we now stand, as well as where the state stands on federal assistance, and where federal policymakers stand on when they might provide additional assistance during America’s ever-extending hour of need.

So how bad is the COVID-19 outbreak in Nevada today?

As we’ve been documenting for the last month, Nevada’s COVID-19 stats continue to worsen. As of today, Nevada’s cumulative test-positivity rate stands at 9.47%, Monday’s one-day test-positivity rate hit 26.37%, and the seven-day average has jumped to a new record high of 22%. All are far above the World Health Organization’s recommended 5% test-positivity benchmark for safe reopening. 

Nevada has suffered 677 confirmed COVID-19 induced deaths since March, including 27 deaths recorded just yesterday, and current hospitalizations of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 infections (combined) have reached a new all-time high of 1,095. Nevada’s overall hospital occupancy rate has dropped in recent days, though at least part of that is due to the Trump administration’s new rule on hospital data recording and reporting.

According to Covid Act Now, Nevada has a dangerously high 1.19 infection rate and an alarmingly low 7% contact tracing rate of new COVID-19 infections within 48 hours. What this means is that every COVID-19 infection often results in at least one more infection, and that officials are probably only able to contain 7% of new infections in the most targeted and efficient way.

Let’s say it again: Economic recovery is not sustainable if it’s not bolstered by public health protection.
COVID-19, CES, Las Vegas
Photo by Andrew Davey

As Nevada has had to learn the hard way, and especially as states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida have had to learn the exceptionally hard way, reopening businesses for the sake of “reviving the economy” will not result in lasting economic recovery if they’re not based in sound science and in the best interest of public health. 

In the past week, the state has noted 3.4% average daily growth in Nevada’s COVID-19 case load, or an average of 1,031 new infections reported per day. By comparison, we had 1.4% average daily growth in case load (or an average of 116 new infections reported per day) in May.

During their (Monday through Friday) daily call with reporters, Nevada State COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage and Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health Deputy Administrator for Community Health Service Julia Peek pored through these and other new numbers. But when it came time for Q&A, they had some interesting answers on the lingering question of what additional resources the state needs to try to get a handle on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus again.

“I hate to say all of the above, but we need all of the above to continue to make progress in containing the virus.” 
– Caleb Cage, Nevada Health Response, in response to questions on additional federal aid the State of Nevada needs
Donald Trump
Photo by Andrew Davey

Over two months after the U.S. House passed the HEROES Act, White House negotiations with Congressional leaders have only just begun. And so far, Republicans are only negotiating amongst themselves over whether to send states any more money for testing and contact tracing, as well as whether to send states any more money… Period. While recent rumblings suggest that Trump may cave on his opposition to testing funding, it’s still unclear how much more aid Trump will ultimately allow (if any).

With President Donald Trump attempting to “have it both ways” by issuing orders and edicts while simultaneously refusing to provide funding or take any responsibility for his actions, state and local health officials are stuck in a vicious quandary. When asked what Nevada needs from the federal government, Cage admitted, “I hate to say all of the above, but we need all of the above to continue to make progress in containing the virus.” 

Photo by Andrew Davey

By “all of the above”, Cage and Peek cited federal CARES Act funds that are helping the state continue its testing program, its contact tracing efforts, expert epidemiological guidance, “flexible” cash payments, and more. On just testing, Cage noted, “The CDC has provided tens of thousands of test kits per month, and that has been essential to us continuing our testing here.”

Cage added that he and Governor Steve Sisolak (D) spoke with U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) last week, and that they’ve been handing over their requests to the rest of the state’s Congressional delegation in hopes that another round of federal relief aid will materialize soon. But as Nevada’s COVID-19 stats worsen, as our economic stats remain incredibly bleak, and as the overall nation’s physical and economic health remains deep in the “red zone”, the nation probably doesn’t have much more time to wait on the White House to reach an agreement with both houses of Congress on additional aid.

If you’re in need of medical treatment, contact your primary health care provider first. If you fear you can’t afford treatment from a hospital or doctor’s office, check with the Southern Nevada Health DistrictWashoe County Health DistrictCarson City Health and Human Services, or the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services for resources in your area. For additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square.

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