Nevada reports single largest day increase of virus cases

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada is reporting its single largest daily increase of new cases of the coronavirus after the governor announced he would hold off on easing any more restrictions.

Health officials reported Tuesday that 379 new cases were reported statewide Monday. Before that, the largest one-day increase was 295 cases on May 22.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said the increase can be partially attributed to delayed reporting from the weekend but also is part of an upward trend of new cases the state has seen in the last three weeks.

Nevada’s casinos reopened almost two weeks ago after being shuttered for 11 weeks, but Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday that current limits on customer capacity in businesses, social distancing guidance and limits on gatherings of more than 50 people would remain at least until the end of June, so health officials can evaluate.

The state health department said Nevada had expected an increase as a result of reopening and more testing but would continue to review the health data and encourage people to wear face masks and keep their distance from those who are not in their household.

Nevada has reported 467 deaths from COVID-19 and more than 11,600 people testing positive for the disease.

Sisolak said Monday that while there’s been a recent increase in daily cases, the seven-day average of the percentage of positive cases has held steady or continued to decline, dropping to 5.2% on Monday.

He said hospitalizations have consistently increased since June 5 but remain within a “plateau” of between 340 and 372 statewide.

“This indicates the increased number of cases in the community has not manifested in a serious disease that requires hospitalization. However, this must be very closely monitored,” he said Monday night.

Nevada’s positivity rate remains well below the 10% rate recommended by the World Health Organization.

Nevada’s rate peaked at 12% in late April. It dropped below 10% for the first time on May 11 and steadily declined to a low of 5.4% on June 8 before bumping back up to 5.5% the following day and stood at 5.4% on June 10.

Sisolak said Monday officials had expected that reopening of businesses combined with increased testing was likely to increase the number of cases in Nevada.

“I know there are a lot of theories or ideas behind what is driving the increase in cases, whether it comes from reopening businesses, increasing the limits on the size of public gatherings, the recent protests, or reopening of gaming. But we need to allow our expanded contract tracing system time to assess where these new cases may have originated,” he said.

Contract tracing is key to that evaluation, he said. As of this past weekend, Nevada has tripled the capacity of its contact tracers who are working 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death. The vast majority of people recover.