Reported cases have increased more than sixfold since Nevada’s casinos began reopening.
On Aug. 3. Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a “long-term strategy for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada” through a targeted approach.
State health officials are now flagging counties that risk “elevated transmission” of COVID-19 if they meet two of three criteria for consecutive weeks.
In each county, the state is tracking the average number of tests processed per day, what percentage of those tests are positive and the rate of COVID-19 cases based on the county’s population. The measurements include only the last month or two weeks of data.
Counties experiencing “elevated transmission” must submit action plans about how they will curb the spread.
The most recent data was published by state officials on Aug. 14.
The state’s positivity rate has been rising after a low of 5.2 percent in mid-June. The optimal goal set by the World Health Organization is 5 percent.
That means a larger percentage of people being tested for COVID-19 are receiving positive results.
The moving seven-day average of new test results has been more volatile, increasing then decreasing in recent weeks.
Gov. Sisolak in late July cited Nevada’s falling transmission rate of COVID-19 as a sign that trends were headed in the right direction. Now, that number is on the rise again in the state.
The transmission rate predicts the average number of people who will be infected by each person already carrying the disease.
A transmission rate below 1 for the virus means “you get fewer cases in each generation (of infection), and it will burn itself out,” said UNLV Professor Brian Labus, a member of Sisolak’s medical advisory team.
More than a thousand Nevadans have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
Most have been aged 60 or older with underlying health issues, but a handful of young adults have succumbed to the disease.
In the span of months, COVID-19 has killed hundreds more Nevadans than the flu and pneumonia typically do in a year.
The disease is almost certain to be one of the state’s leading causes of deaths this year.
Nevada’s coronavirus testing capabilities expanded dramatically in May. With the rise in cases, disease investigators are having a hard time keeping up. Increased demand for COVID-19 tests is resulting in longer waits for results, sometimes more than a week.
Neighboring states and Nevada have all recently reported a downward trend in their average number of new cases after reopening businesses.
Comparing outbreaks between states with dramatically different population sizes can be achieved by measuring the number of cases for every 100,000 residents
Aside from Arizona, Nevada has seen a greater share of its population infected than its neighbors.
All but one of Nevada’s 16 counties have reported confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Clark County, home to Las Vegas and two-thirds of the state’s population, has reported the vast majority of cases and deaths. Washoe County has also reported thousands of cases.
In the Las Vegas Valley, the virus has its strongest foothold in the north and east valley.The hardest hit neighborhoods are also home to the valley’s greatest population of Latinos.
State health officials are tracking the age, gender and race of everyone who tests positive for COVID-19.
The same demographic information is being tracked for infected people who die.
A surge of new cases in Nevada has led to more hospitalizations of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients, and multiple Las Vegas hospitals were adding beds and staff as of mid-July to accommodate increasing caseloads.
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients began to moderate in late July.
In July, the Nevada Hospital Association began measuring how full hospitals were compared to their total number of licensed beds, rather than their number of staffed beds. The changes will help hospitals quantify staffing shortfalls, spokeswoman Amy Shogren wrote in a statement. Licensed beds means the maximum beds for which a hospital holds a license to operate. Staffed beds are those that are licensed and available for which staff is on hand to attend to the patient who occupies the bed.
Some of Nevada’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities have proven fertile ground for the spread of the coronavirus.
Often supporting older residents who have underlying medical conditions, such facilities have seen hundreds of their residents and staff members infected with COVID-19.
Research, graphics credit: Wes Rand, Michael Scott Davidson, Severiano del Castillo Galvan