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Coronavirus Contextualized, 49th edition: Cases, hospitalizations continue to decrease as state prepares to open 100 percent

Megan Messerly
Megan Messerly
Coronavirus Contextualized
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Welcome to the 49th installment of “Coronavirus Contextualized.”

For more than a year, we have brought you the latest COVID-19 numbers in Nevada, including COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and provided context to them on a near-weekly basis through this series. You can view the prior editions of “Coronavirus Contextualized” here.

As noted in the last few editions, we plan to continue providing you with the data you need to know about COVID-19 in Nevada for as long as necessary. However, “Coronavirus Contextualized” now publishes on a semi-regular basis, which means we may occasionally skip a Friday or two if there are no new trends to report.

Don’t fear though: You’ll still be able to continue to find the latest data daily on our COVID-19 data page and on Twitter. As always, you can reach out to [email protected] with any questions.

Below, we explore how COVID-19 cases and hospitalization numbers have remained low as the vaccination effort continues and the state continues to open up — with every county expected to be fully open as of Tuesday.

Cases and test positivity

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported each day has been steadily declining over the last two weeks.

As of Thursday, an average of 209 cases were reported each day over the last seven days, down from 267 the week before and 381 the week before that. The last time the seven-day average was lower than it is now was June 12, 2020, right around when COVID-19 cases first started to climb after Nevada started to reopen following the spring shut down.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, there have been 323,481 COVID-19 cases reported statewide. A little less than 3 percent of those cases, 9,396 have been diagnosed in the last month, and 0.5 percent, or 1,463 cases, have been reported in the last week.

For comparison, the number of COVID-19 cases reported in the last week is about half of the cases Nevada was seeing on average reported each day during the worst of the pandemic this fall. On Dec. 10, the peak, the seven-day average hit 2,736.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, about 1 in 10 Nevadans has tested positive for the virus.

At the same time, the test positivity rate, which looks at the percentage of tests coming back positive out of the total tested, has been steadily decreasing for about a month.

It is not possible to independently calculate the test positivity rate based on test encounters because the state only reports the number of positive cases, not the number of positive test encounters. However, the state does provide this number, calculated as an average over a 14-day period with a seven-day lag. As of Wednesday, that number was 4.21 percent, down from 4.8 percent the week before and 5.34 percent the week before that. The test positivity rate is now, once again, below the World Health Organization’s recommended 5 percent threshold.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1.6 million people — roughly 1 in 2 Nevadans have been tested for COVID-19, and there have been more than 3.3 million individual testing encounters.

Vaccinations

As of Thursday, nearly 45 percent of Nevadans have been either partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 42 percent of Nevadans eligible for the vaccine have yet to receive it.

Since vaccinations started in December, nearly 2.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Nevada, up from nearly 2.4 million last week. In total, nearly 1.4 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 1.1 million Nevadans have been fully vaccinated. Nevada has received more than 2.8 million doses of the vaccine for distribution.

The pace of vaccine distribution has continued to generally slow. As of Thursday, about 13,000 vaccines were being reported administered each day over the last seven days, down from about 16,000 last week and a high of nearly 30,000 on April 15.

Among the counties, Carson City has the highest percentage of residents partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at 48.5 percent, followed by Washoe County at 47.5 percent, Douglas County at 44.6 percent, and Clark County at 39.9 percent. Tiny Storey County has vaccinated the least, with only 14.2 percent of its residents partially or fully vaccinated.

As the federal government continues to forge ahead with its goal of vaccinating 70 percent of American adults with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4, Nevada continues to lag. As of Thursday, Nevada has given 56.4 percent of the adult population, or about 1.3 million adults, at least one dose of the vaccine. 

Nationally, Nevada ranks 32nd among the 50 states for percentage of adults given first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, trailing almost all of its neighboring states except Idaho, which comes in at 44th with 49.6 percent vaccinated. California ranks 12th, at 69.1 percent; Oregon ranks 20th at 64.9 percent; Utah ranks 25th at 60.3 percent; and Arizona ranks 31st at 57.1 percent.

To reach 70 percent, Nevada will need to vaccinate about 325,000 more adults. With an average of 7,000 first doses a day being administered, if all of those shots were given to adults, the state would hit the 70 percent vaccination goal in 46 days — on July 12.

For more on the vaccination process in the state, read our vaccine Q&A here.

Deaths

The number of new COVID-19 deaths reported on average each day has continued to generally decline, with some day-to-day fluctuations.

As of Thursday, four deaths were being reported on average each day over the prior seven days, roughly unchanged from last week and slightly down from five deaths two weeks ago.

Over the last seven days, 28 COVID-19 deaths have been reported across the state, including:

  • 24 in Clark County
  • 3 in Washoe County
  • 1 in Nye County

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 5,578 deaths from COVID-19. In the last month, 134 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported statewide, about 2 percent of the deaths reported statewide since the beginning of the pandemic.

Pershing County has had the highest number of deaths per capita in Nevada, with 30 deaths per 10,000 residents, followed by Nye County at 23 and Carson City at 22.

Hospitalizations

COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to decline, again setting a new record low of 243 on Wednesday, the last day for which data is available. The previous record low, 259, was set on March 28, before hospitalizations started to fluctuate for a few weeks.

Nevada hit peak hospitalizations during the fall surge at 2,025 on Dec. 13.

“Nevada continues to see hospitalizations and all critical metrics near the bottom of the scale,” the Nevada Hospital Association wrote in its weekly report. “Nevada has not witnessed any significant hospitalization increases since the counties lightened social distancing protocols on 1 May 2021.”

County by county

Four of the state’s 17 counties — Douglas, Elko, Eureka and Lincoln — are considered at elevated risk for the spread of COVID-19 according to state criteria as of Thursday. 

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

  • The average number of tests per day per 100,000, calculated over a 14-day period. If this number is less than 100, 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 8.0 percent, a county could be considered at risk.

While Eureka and Lincoln are flagged for a too low test rate combined with a too high test positivity rate — metrics that are now less concerning as counties may be testing less as more residents get vaccinated — Douglas and Elko are flagged for all three metrics, including a too high case rate.

Elko has a case rate of 296 per 100,000 over the last 30 days, while  Douglas has a case rate of 217. A third county, Lander, has the highest case rate, 300, but isn’t flagged because it doesn't meet either of the other two other criteria.

No other counties have an elevated case rate and, in fact, nine counties, including both Clark and Washoe counties, aren’t flagged for any criteria at all.

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