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Nevada Today

Nevada Today is a nonpartisan, independently owned and operated site dedicated to providing up-to-date news and smart analysis on the issues that impact Nevada's communities and businesses.

COVID-19HealthNews and informationThe Economy

COVID-19 Update: Mixed Bag of Grim News

Yes, COVID-19 remains very real and very much continues to spread at a disturbingly rapid pace. Here’s an update on how COVID-19 is spreading in Nevada and affecting our health care system.

First, here’s our Monday COVID-19 check-up.

Today’s bad news: Covid Act Now still places Nevada in its worst category of “active or imminent outbreak”, and state officials confirmed today that statewide daily case growth has inched up to 0.9%, or 848 new cases per day. And this week, the state is flagging nine counties for elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission: Carson City, Clark, Douglas, Elko, Humboldt, Lincoln, Lyon, Nye, and Washoe.

Today’s slightly better news: According to Covid Act Now, Nevada’s statewide COVID-19 infection rate has slipped a little to 1.11, or every 100 infections leading to another 111 new infections. While Lyon (0.74) and Douglas (0.84) Counties’ infection rates remain low and Carson City’s infection rate (0.94) drops a bit, Nye (1.08), Clark (1.10), Elko (1.13), Washoe (1.14), and Churchill (1.14) Counties continue to suffer more rapid spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19. 

health care, COVID-19
Photo by Andrew Davey

According to the official Nevada Health Response dashboard and The Nevada Independent’s COVID-19 tracker, Nevada’s cumulative test positivity rate has jumped some more to 12.5%. And while the seven-day test positivity average has finally dropped below 20%, we’re still well over triple the WHO’s recommended 5% test positivity benchmark for safe reopening. COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise, as the combined confirmed and suspected total now sits at 678, the highest we’ve seen since September.

Nevada’s overall COVID-19 death count now stands at 1,784. While the seven-day average daily death toll remains low, here’s another reminder that the death rate is typically a lagging indicator. And as we’ve discussed before, even for those who survive, a COVID-19 infection can very well cause long-term health complications.

Here’s some more mixed news on the COVID-19 front.
COVID-19 testing Mesquite, Nevada

During today’s press call, the Nevada Health Response team discussed this mixed bag of recent developments. So far Nevada public health officials have identified just over 25% of COVID-19 infections through contact tracing, though that’s essentially unchanged from where we were a month ago. And while the state has found some success in conducting contact tracing through automated texts and the Covid Trace app, Covid Act Now warns that Nevada public health offices only have 14% of the human staffing needed to successfully contact trace all new infections within 48 hours of detection.

When asked about growing wait times for COVID-19 testing in Northern Nevada, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Administrator for Public and Behavioral Health Julia Peek confirmed, “When I got tested myself, there was a three-day wait.” She then added, “If there are testing delays, it depends geographically,” and both she and Nevada COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage recommended checking the Nevada Health Response website for updates on wait times at confirmed testing sites.

COVID-19, Steve Sisolak
Screenshot by Andrew Davey

Jumping back to hospitalizations, Cage confirmed that hospitalizations are on the rise throughout the state, and he especially noted that Northern Nevada hospitals have recently hit record highs in the number of COVID-19 patients they’re admitting and the number of COVID-19 patients who need beds in intensive care units (or ICU’s). However with statewide hospital occupancy still hovering at 72% and ICU occupancy at 60%, we’re not seeing the kind of hospital overcrowding that’s now plaguing Utah and some other states.

While many of us are obviously glued to our phones, our desktops, and our other internet enabled devices for updates on the election, we should not forget that this election is happening in the midst of an active pandemic. Whatever you plan to do today, tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, please take proper precautions to keep yourself safe and to protect others.

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.

The cover photo is a screenshot captured by me.

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