Updated January 3, 2022 - 3:45 pm
Clark County on Monday reported more than 8,100 new cases of COVID-19 and a sharp jump in hospitalizations over the preceding three days as the omicron-fueled surge of the disease continued unabated.
Updated figures from the Southern Nevada Health District showed 8,104 new cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus from Friday through Sunday, pushing the total for the county to 377,518 cases.
The district reported no new deaths in the county over the period, though that figure is not reliable since no deaths have been reported on weekends for more than a month, apparently due to lags in reporting. The death toll in the county remained unchanged from Friday’s update at 6,461.
The rapid jump in local cases was reflected in numbers for the state, which reported more than 12,000 new during the previous four days.
Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a statement calling on Nevadans to get vaccinated, receive booster shots if eligible, wear masks in indoor public spaces and stay home if ill to curtail the spread of the disease.
“Today, we are seeing an alarming number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reported after the end-of-year holidays,” he said. “My team is continuing to analyze the numbers and we are working with health districts and other partners to provide resources to combat the surge we are facing.”
Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada
The county data reported Monday continued the trend on new cases seen last week.
Divided by three, the average of 2,701 new cases daily over the period was well above the two-week moving average for the metric. The average itself nearly doubled from 875 cases per day on Thursday — the last day updated state data was available before Monday — to 1,673.
The county’s 14-day average for fatalities dropped from four per day to two as of Monday, likely due to the lack of weekend reporting of deaths.
Hospitalizations jump sharply
The county’s other key COVID-19 metrics — test positivity rate and hospitalizations — also increased sharply over the three-day period.
The former, which tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, climbed three percentage points from Friday’s update to hit 14.1 percent and is rapidly approaching the 15.7 percent peak seen during the summer surge. The rate topped out at 21.5 percent in January 2021 in what remains the biggest surge in the county since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients in the county stood at 890 as of Monday’s update, up by 137 patients from Thursday. That number is nearly double the 492 hospitalizations recorded on Oct. 27, days before the current surge began.
The recent increase prompted the CEO University Medical Center in Las Vegas to warn residents Monday that people seeking treatment for nonurgent medical needs at UMC’s emergency room and Quick Care locations may experience increased wait times.
“As our world-class team members respond to this surge, we encourage community members to support our efforts by avoiding unnecessary ER and Quick Care visits for nonurgent medical needs,” CEO Mason Van Houweling said in a news release. “Patients with asymptomatic COVID-19 or mild symptoms do not typically require medical treatment, unless they have risk factors for developing severe cases of COVID-19. Otherwise healthy people with mild or no symptoms should isolate at home, monitor their symptoms and seek medical care if their condition worsens.”
The more-contagious omicron variant of COVID-19 is playing a role in the rising tide of cases in the county and state, though public health officials say the delta variant remains the dominant strain.
92 omicron cases detected
As of Monday, the state public health lab had identified 92 cases involving omicron, most of them in Clark and Washoe counties. That undoubtedly underrepresents the mutant’s presence in the county and state, as only a limited number of test samples are genetically sequenced to identify the strain of the disease.
Early evidence indicates omicron does not lead to serious complications as often as the delta variant, but officials remain concerned that it could nonetheless overwhelm hospitals and lead to a surge in deaths due to the sheer number of infections.
The health district also updated its reporting on so-called breakthrough cases in which fully vaccinated residents nonetheless become infected by the coronavirus.
The new report, dated Dec. 29, showed 2,762 new breakthrough cases, 15 hospitalizations and three deaths over the preceding week. That pushed totals for the county to 19,501 breakthrough cases, 845 hospitalizations and 249 deaths.
Four of those new cases were identified as being caused by omicron, but no hospitalizations or deaths were attributed to the new variant.
Breakthrough cases continued to rise in December, with the final report of the month showing they accounted for 32.20 percent of total cases in the county.
However, the data continues to support public health officials’ message that vaccination provides strong protection against the more serious consequences of the illness.
As of the most recent report, the death rate among the fully vaccinated stood at 21 per 100,000 population compared to 546 per 100,000 for unvaccinated individuals.
State records over 12,000 cases
The state Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, on Monday reported 12,443 new COVID-19 cases and 15 additional deaths during the previous four days.
Updated figures for Thursday through Sunday posted on the state’s coronavirus website pushed totals for the state to 497,084 cases and 8,428 deaths.
Divided by four, the average of nearly 3,111 cases per day was far higher than the two-week moving average of 1,870. The average jumped sharply from the 1,010 cases per day announced in Thursday’s update.
Fatalities also were above the two-week average of three deaths per day, which was down from five per day on Thursday.
Hospitalizations of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients in the state topped 1,000 for the first time since the height of the summer surge, with 1,006 cases vs. the 910 reported on Thursday.
The state’s test positivity rate rose 1.6 percentage points to 12.6 percent.
— 5+ population: 3 million.
— Doses administered: 3.98 million.
— Vaccinations initiated: 1.94 million.
— Vaccinations completed: 1.64 million.
— Eligible fully vaccinated: 54.53 percent.
Sources: Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Census Bureau