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Easing of restrictions, ‘COVID fatigue’ lead to increase in cases

Updated October 19, 2020 - 6:34 pm

New cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in Nevada, which state officials attributed Monday not only to the easing of pandemic restrictions but also to “COVID fatigue” that is causing people to flout social-distancing recommendations.

On Monday, Nevada reported 582 new cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths, increasing the total number of cases in the state to 90,843 and fatalities to 1,712.

Statewide, the daily tally of new cases was above the 14-day average of 507 cases per day, while deaths were below the 14-day daily average of three.

Meanwhile, the Southern Nevada Health District separately recorded 460 new cases in Clark County and one additional death.

Cases have been steadily rising since mid-September, when the 14-day average had fallen to 303 new cases. But the number of deaths has continued to decline since mid-August, when the average had risen to 19 per day. However, increases in deaths typically lag several weeks behind increases in new cases.

There also has been an uptick this month in hospitalizations, considered one of the best indicators of serious disease in a community.

Date guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada

The 14-day positivity rate for COVID-19 tests performed was 9.1 percent, which has been rising since mid-September, when it was 6.5 percent, according to the state’s COVID-19 data website.

On a briefing call Monday with reporters, state officials said that the easing of restrictions on businesses and gatherings in Nevada is not the only reason for case numbers here to be rising, considering that infections are increasing across the country and the globe.

“When we have more opportunities for larger groups of people to get together, we have a lot higher risk of community spread,” said Caleb Cage, who directs state government’s COVID-19 response. “Now we’re trying to determine whether or not that increase is going to be as rapid … or climb as high as it has in the past.”

State officials expect that social distancing measures and wearing masks will help to minimize the spread of disease, he said.

“COVID fatigue” may also account for some of the increase, “where people get a level of comfort around friends or co-workers” that promotes the spread of disease, said Julia Peek, deputy administrator of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

Even something as simple as carpooling can cause multiple infections, said Peek, who gave an example of four people in one carpool becoming ill in one rural Nevada county.

The antidote to COVID fatigue is when you learn that you, a friend or family member has potentially been exposed to the disease.

“I think that refreshes your memory that the COVID pandemic is still very close to us,” she said.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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