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Nevada COVID metrics a mixed bag as positivity rate, deaths climb

Updated September 14, 2021 - 2:46 pm

Nevada on Tuesday reported 1,361 new coronavirus cases and 35 deaths over the preceding day as the state’s main COVID-19 metrics continued to paint a mixed picture of the state of the outbreak .

Reported fatalities were higher than the 26 deaths reported on Monday for the preceding three days, highlighting a trend that has held steady for months now. State officials have said that because figures are no longer reported on weekends, delayed reporting and data redistribution can cause Monday and Tuesday numbers to be inflated, though it’s unclear by how much.

Updated data posted by the state Department of Health and Human Services on the state’s coronavirus website showed the state’s totals increasing to 406,212 COVID-19 cases and 6,763 deaths.

New cases were well above the two-week moving daily average of 892. But the average itself dipped sharply from 948 on Monday, reversing course after two-straight gains in the metric.

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The two-week average of the daily deaths rose by two to 11, meaning Tuesday’s reported fatalities were more than three times the longer-term rate. The trendline for deaths has nonetheless declined substantially from a recent high of 19 per day on Aug. 22.

The state’s two-week test positivity rate, which essentially tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, rose to 11.5 percent. That was a gain of 0.2 percentage points following a steep drop reported Monday and bucked a trend that has seen the rate consistently decline over the past month.

The rate remains well below the recent high of 16.4 percent on Aug. 14, according to state data.

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State officials said last week that regular testing protocols for employees at some schools and businesses, where people are tested consistently even if they don’t show any COVID-19 symptoms, could be causing the positivity rate to drop faster than the other metrics.

The state also reported that 1,095 people in Nevada were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, 25 fewer than the day prior.

The Nevada Hospital Association has said that the current wave of hospitalizations is likely at or past its peak in Southern Nevada, but cases requiring hospitalization continue to rise in the northern part of the state.

The state reinstituted a mask mandate in crowded indoor public spaces in many counties on July 30, about two weeks before the state’s numbers started to flatten and drop. That was especially true in Clark County, which has long accounted for a vast majority of the cases and deaths in the state.

But while the state’s main COVID-19 metrics are all trending lower, they remain at high levels. Each of the state’s 17 counties is now under a mask mandate.

State officials on Tuesday said all counties will remain under a mask mandate for the second straight week. Sixteen of the counties are classified as areas of “high” risk of transmission, while White Pine County is classified as having “substantial” risk.

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The mask mandate is tied to official guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. Under state criteria, counties must remain in “low” or “moderate” categories for two consecutive weeks in order for the mask mandate to be lifted for vaccinated individuals. Those who have not been vaccinated would still be required to wear masks in indoor settings.

To reach the moderate category, a county must have a rate of under 50 cases per 100,000 population and a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 10 percent or less, as calculated by the seven-day moving average.

As of early Tuesday afternoon, Clark County had a seven-day test positivity rate of 9.0 percent — or lower than the threshold — but a case rate of 168.88 per 100,000 people, or more than triple the required level.

As of Tuesday’s report, 53.55 percent of Nevadans 12 and older had been fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Southern Nevada Health District reported 419 new coronavirus cases and 25 additional deaths, according to data posted to the Southern Nevada Health District’s coronavirus website.

Cumulative totals in the county rose to 312,334 cases and 5,358 deaths.

The county’s two-week test positivity rate increased by 0.2 percentage points to 9.0 percent.

County numbers are included in the statewide totals.

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

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