Updated October 16, 2021 - 9:35 am
While most of Clark County’s key COVID-19 metrics continued to move lower this week, the test positivity rate remained stuck in place for a second week in a row.
The rate, which tracks the percentage of those tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected, was unchanged from the previous day at 6.9 percent as of Friday, according to newly updated state data. That’s exactly where it was a week earlier, on Oct. 8, and two weeks ago on Oct. 1.
The rate, a forward-looking metric that can serve as a canary in a coal mine in foreshadowing future problems, has fallen more than 56 percent from its recent high of 15.7 percent on Aug. 8. But the decline occurred through September before settling at or near the current level when the calendar flipped to October.
It’s not clear what’s behind the slowdown in the metric’s descent, but public health officials will be closely monitoring it next week and beyond to attempt to discern which way it will head.
The county’s three other major coronavirus metrics — new COVID-19 cases, deaths and daily hospitalizations — continued to drop over the past week, adding to improvements seen since mid- to late August.
Nearing pre-surge levels
Updated data from the Southern Nevada Health District on Friday showed relatively low increases in the final report of the week, with 255 additional COVID-19 cases and five deaths over the preceding day. That pushed county totals to 326,538 cases and 5,835 deaths.
The county’s 14-day moving average of 324 new COVID-19 cases per day was down nearly 8 percent over the past week, according to state data. Since the beginning of the month, it has dropped nearly 12 percent.
Data guide: COVID-19’s impact on Nevada
This week’s decline pushed new case levels in the county to their lowest level since June 27, when the metric hit 314 new cases per day as the summer surge of the disease was beginning.
Fatalities due to COVID-19 showed the biggest week-over-week improvement, falling nearly 47 percent to a 14-day average of eight per day. Since the beginning of the month, they are down more than 55 percent.
Hospitalizations of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in the county stood at 543 as of Friday’s update, 13 fewer than the previous day and 58 fewer than a week earlier. Hospitalizations in the county are falling a bit more slowly than new cases and deaths, with a 15 percent improvement from the beginning of the month.
That is due in part to the fact that Clark County hospitals are now able to accept COVID-19 patients from rural Nevada hospitals, which typically don’t have intensive care units, as well as some from out of state.
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.
The Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, on Friday reported 1,110 new COVID-19 cases and 55 deaths across the state during the preceding day.
Updated figures published on the state’s coronavirus page pushed totals for the state to 430,665 COVID-19 cases and 7,422 deaths.
New cases were above the state’s 14-day moving average of 510 per day, while the average declined by 14 from Thursday’s report.
New vaccinations decline
Fatalities attributed to the disease remained much higher than the two-week average of 12 per day, while the average was unchanged from the previous day.
The state positivity rate was unchanged at 7.9 percent.
A total of 749 confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across the state, nine fewer than were reported Thursday.
An official representing Nevada’s rural hospitals said at a state news briefing on Thursday that the facilities continue to face shortages of beds, staff and supplies even as the outbreak has eased in other parts of the state.
Vaccination numbers declined substantially over the past week in both Clark County and the state, with the former registering a drop of more than 19 percent to 5,748 doses per day.
The percentages of eligible Nevadans 12 and older who have been fully vaccinated continued to edge higher, with 54.34 percent in Clark County now in the category, up from 53.84 percent last week. Statewide the figure stood at 55.1 percent vaccinated compared with 54.62 a week earlier.
A previous version of this article had incorrect state totals for new COVID-19 cases and deaths.
— 12+ population: 2.64 million.
— Doses administered: 3.20 million.
— Vaccinations initiated: 1.74 million.
— Vaccinations completed: 1.51 million.
— Eligible Nevadans vaccinated: 55.10 percent.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Nevada Department of Health and Human Services