the nevada independent logo
A member of the Nevada National Guard places a swab in a container after performing a COVID-19 test at the Orleans on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Welcome to the 22nd installment of “Coronavirus Contextualized,” a recurring feature in which we explore some of the numbers swirling around in the time of coronavirus.

Through these stories, we hope to parse the numbers, including confirmed cases of COVID-19, people tested, number of hospitalizations and deaths, and provide some context to them. You can view the prior editions of “Coronavirus Contextualized” here on our coronavirus page.

These stories serve as a written roundup of the COVID-19 trends we kept our eyes on this week, with all graphs and charts living permanently on our COVID-19 data page, where they are updated multiple times a day with the latest numbers. 

We’re continuing to take suggestions for what kind of data, graphs and trends you would like to see analyzed in future versions of this story or included in a future update of our data page. Reach out to [email protected] with any feedback.

Below, we take a look at some of the latest COVID-19 trends in Nevada, as fluctuations in the data show that several steady weeks of decreases in cases, hospitalizations and deaths may be coming to an end.

Cases and tests

COVID-19 cases in Nevada have started to plateau over the last week following several weeks of relatively steady decreases since July.

On average, about 311 new cases were reported each day over the last seven days as of Thursday, significantly down from a high of 1,176 on July 20. However, that number has actually increased over the last three days, from a low of 267 on Monday. Before cases increased this summer, the state hit a low point of 81 new cases on average reported each day on May 11.

Since March, there have been 74,796 confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, meaning that one in 42 people in Nevada has tested positive for COVID-19. Nevada now ranks 10th, down from 9th last week, nationally for coronavirus cases per capita.

In total, 2,175 new cases were reported in the last seven days, just slightly less than the 2,282 new cases reported the week before and the 3,006 new cases reported the week before that. At the peak on July 16, 1,451 new cases were reported in a single day.

The seven-day average daily test positivity rate, which looks at the number of new people testing positive each day as a percentage of the number of new people tested, continues to generally decline, with a rate of 9.2 percent as of Thursday. That’s down significantly from a high point of 26.2 percent on Aug. 5. (Those numbers are calculated based on the numbers reported each day, not the day that people were actually tested.)

The state, which calculates the positivity rate slightly differently, reports a 7.5 percent average rate as of Tuesday, down from a high of 15.7 percent in mid-July. The state calculates its positivity rate on a lag and uses the number of positive tests as a percent of total tests, instead of positive people as a percent of total people.

On Thursday, the average number of new tests being collected over the last seven days was 6,776, slightly up from a recent low point of 5,462 in early September but down from a high of 12,260 in late July.

Deaths

Though COVID-19-related deaths are still generally down from their peak last month, the data show the number of new deaths reported each day on average has been fluctuating over the last week.

As of Thursday, the average number of new deaths reported each day over the last seven days was 11, down from a high point of 20.7 on Aug. 20. However, that number is up from the averages in the eight to nine range seen most of the last week.

The previous low point before cases started to increase this summer was 1.9 deaths per day, reported on June 28. Deaths tend to lag new cases by about five weeks.

Hospitalizations

The number of people hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 has also started to plateau following weeks of steady declines.

As of Wednesday, the last day for which data is available, there were 484 COVID-19 hospitalizations — with hospitalizations mostly in the 470 to 490 range over the last week. Still, those numbers are significantly down from the high point of 1,165 on July 31.

The previous low point of COVID-19 hospitalizations before the case surge this summer was 316 on May 30.

The Nevada Hospital Association, in its daily report published Thursday, noted “fluctuations” in the data but said that they “do not pose any issue so long as the infrastructure can adapt and incorporate new cases into the healthcare system.” The association added that the state is “well poised to accommodate the anticipated increases at this time.”

A more detailed report published by the hospital association on Wednesday noted that the hospital infrastructure in both Clark and Washoe counties remains in “good” condition.

As of Wednesday, 73 percent of licensed hospital beds and 61 percent of ICU beds statewide were occupied. Those numbers were 77 percent and 68 percent, respectively, in Clark County and 66 percent and 45 percent, respectively, in Washoe County.

County by county

Only two counties, Clark and Elko, remain at elevated risk for the spread of COVID-19 this week, though the state’s COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force on Thursday voted to allow both to reopen their bars effective 11:59 p.m. on Sunday because of their improving metrics.

Clark County continues to have a high average daily case rate, 390.2, as does Elko County, 232.8 — both above the 200 cases per 100,000 residents limit set by the task force. Clark County, additionally, continues to have a high test positivity rate, 8.6 percent, exceeding the 7 percent limit set by the task force, while Elko County has a low test rate — 111.6 average tests per day per 100,000, lower than the 150 required.

Counties are considered at elevated risk of the spread of COVID-19 if they meet two of the three following criteria:

  • The average number of tests per day per 100,000, calculated over a 14-day period. If this number is less than 150, a county could be considered at risk.
  • The case rate per 100,000, calculated by taking the number of cases diagnosed and reported over a 30-day period. If this number is greater than 200, a county could be considered at risk.
  • The case rate per 100,000 and the test positivity rate, calculated over a 14-day period with a seven-day lag. If the case rate is greater than 50 and the test positivity rate is greater than 7.0 percent, a county could be considered at risk.

Lyon and Mineral counties were also additionally newly flagged by the task force this week as at elevated risk for the spread of COVID-19. Both had high test positivity rates, while Lyon also had a low test rate and Mineral had a high case rate.

Three counties were also removed from the task force’s list this week: Churchill, Eureka and Washoe counties.

Clark County continues to have the most coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents so far at 2,793, with Washoe County in second at 1,794 and Elko in third at 1,720.

Comment Policy (updated 10/4/19): Please keep your comments civil. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, use an excess of profanity, make verifiably false statements or are otherwise nasty.
correct us
ideas & story tips