RENO, Nev. (AP) — The COVID-19 positivity rate in Nevada has more than doubled over the last month to 7.9%, and the average number of new daily cases statewide has climbed to its highest level since February, health officials say.
Meanwhile, Nevada reported its second death from the COVID-19 delta variant, a Washoe County man in his 50s with an underlying health condition who had not been vaccinated.
Nevada’s 14-day rolling average for new cases had dropped to 132 the first week of June, with the positivity rate bottoming out at 3.3% on June 9. But the 377 new cases on average reported July 4 was the highest it has been since 375 in February.
That is also the last time the state’s positivity rate had reached as high as 8% — 8.3% on Feb. 23.
As of Tuesday, Nevada trailed only Missouri and Arkansas with the third-highest count of new coronavirus cases per capita of any state with 14 per 100,000 people.
COVID-19 related hospitalizations in Nevada, rising since the beginning of June, also have surpassed 500 for the first time since February.
Nevada’s positivity rate peaked at 21.2% on Jan. 12, a month after the average number of new cases reached a record-high of 2,740 on Dec. 12, 2020.
Clark County, including Las Vegas, is driving the current dramatic climb in the positivity rate at 8.7%, compared with 4.6% in the Reno-Sparks area of Washoe County. The highest rates in Nevada are in Storey County, at 20%, and Elko County, at 17.2%.
Las Vegas and most of Nevada fully reopened and lifted restrictions on most businesses June 1, though many casino-resorts had already returned to 100% capacity before that with approval from state regulators. Visitor numbers, while not at their pre-pandemic highs, have grown by double digits four months in a row.
More than two-thirds of the country’s adult population has been at least partly vaccinated. But in Nevada, only 53% of those who are eligible have received one shot at 45% are fully vaccinated.
“We are a state of skeptics when it comes to vaccines,” state biostatistician Kyra Morgan told The Associated Press last week. “We have a lot of anti-vaxxers, frankly, in the state of Nevada.”
Dr. Cassius Lockett, the Southern Nevada Health District’s director of disease surveillance and control, said the recent rise in positivity is being driven in large part by the delta variant. Nevada’s first death from the variant was confirmed in Washoe County last week.
“It’s really alarming,” he told KSNV-TV in Las Vegas over the weekend. “We are in a serious race against the fast spread of the delta variant.”
The variant first identified in India accounted for nearly half of the Nevada cases analyzed by the state’s public health laboratory the last two weeks of June.
“My level of concern is moderate to high, but only for unvaccinated individuals,” Mark Pandori, director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
On Thursday, Gov. Steve Sisolak plans to announce the initial winners of a new statewide lottery meant to encourage Nevadans to get the COVID vaccine.
He is scheduled unveil the names of the winners at the College of Southern Nevada in North Las Vegas.
Inoculated residents can win up to $5 million in cash and prizes through the “Vax Nevada Days” public health initiative launched last month. Winners will be announced each Thursday through Aug. 26, with a grand prize of $1 million.
Source: Associated Press