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Clark County’s COVID-19 metrics point in different directions

Updated November 19, 2021 - 5:10 pm

Clark County’s four key COVID-19 indicators pointed in different directions over the past week, failing to clarify whether a winter surge of the disease is beginning or the recent bubble in the metrics was just a bump in the road.

The 14-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases ended the week at 312, nearly 7 percent lower than on Nov. 12. That was a welcome reversal, as the rate had risen more than 14 percent over the previous three weeks.

But the county’s other three primary metrics all headed higher. The 14-day average of deaths increased to five per day, up from three a week earlier. The positivity rate, which usually matches trends in new cases fairly closely, jumped almost 8 percent from 6.6 percent to 7.1. Hospitalizations ended the week up slightly, with 558 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients reported Friday compared to 552 a week earlier.

All four of the key COVID-19 metrics in the county had been falling fairly steadily since mid- to late-August before starting to climb around the beginning of November. The trend has raised concerns that another spike of the disease caused by the new coronavirus may be beginning, though public health experts have so far not labeled the recent upticks a surge.

The last daily data update of the week on Friday did nothing to clarify where the county stands , with local and state figures remaining mostly flat.

Numbers posted by the Southern Nevada Health District showed 411 new COVID-19 cases and 13 additional deaths in the county during the preceding day. That pushed totals for the county to 340,004 infections and 6,121 deaths.

New cases were well above the two-week moving average of 312, while the average rose by two cases per day from Thursday’s report, state data showed.

Fatalities from the disease caused by the new coronavirus also were well above the two-week average of five, which was unchanged from the previous day.

The county’s 14-day test positivity rate also held steady at 7.1 percent, according to Nevada’s COVID dashboard.

Clark County hospitals reported 558 confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, one more than Thursday’s figure. Out of 138 in intensive care units, 90 were on ventilators.

The health district also updated its reporting on so-called breakthrough cases in Clark County on Friday.

Update on breakthrough cases

The weekly report showed 773 new breakthrough cases — those in which fully vaccinated individuals nonetheless contract the disease — 45 hospitalizations and seven deaths in the county over the past week, pushing totals to 12,898 infections, 652 hospitalizations and 202 deaths.

The breakthrough report is the only one that correlates outcomes with COVID-19 vaccination status, and it demonstrates what public health officials have said about the protective effects of the vaccine: The county death rate for the fully vaccinated, for example, is 18 per 100,000 population vs. 499 per 100,000 for the unvaccinated.

The data also show that people with underlying medical conditions are more likely to succumb to the disease than otherwise healthy individuals.

It also indicates that breakthrough cases are growing as a percentage of total cases, perhaps because of the weakening efficacy of the shots that led to Friday’s authorization of booster shots by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Friday’s report showed breakthrough cases among those 12 and older accounted for 22.39 percent of the total in the county.

The state Department of Health and Human Services, meantime, reported 626 new COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths during the preceding day.

That pushed state totals to 452,173 cases and 7,918 deaths.

New cases were well above the two-week moving average of 473 per day, while the longer-term measurement was up by four from Thursday’s update.

Fatalities also were higher than the 14-day average, which remained unchanged at eight deaths per day.

The state’s 14-day test positivity rate rose by 0.1 percentage point to 7.7 percent.

State and county health agencies often redistribute daily data after it is reported to better reflect the date of death or onset of symptoms, which is why the moving-average trend lines frequently differ from daily reports and are considered better indicators of the direction of the outbreak.

Statewide, the department reported 715 hospitalizations for COVID-19, up by 18 from Thursday’s report.

Vaccination numbers continue to creep higher, with the department reporting that 57.14 percent of Nevadans 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That compares to a rate of 56.43 percent in Clark County.

State officials have said they will begin including the newest eligible group — children 5 through 11 — in the statistics next week.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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