New COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations soar in Nevada

July 15, 2021 GMT

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Fueled by continued growth in the spread of the delta variant, Nevada’s average daily number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and positivity rate all have soared to their highest levels since February.

State health officials said Thursday they’re seeing signs of improvement in the effort to get more Nevadans vaccinated. But nearly half of the state’s eligible residents haven’t been fully vaccinated and at the current rate, it will take until December to reach the goal of 70% statewide.

The 14-day average positivity rate statewide has tripled from 3.4% on June 11 to 10.9% as of Wednesday — the first time its topped 10% since mid-February, officials said.

The rate now is twice as high in Clark County and Las Vegas than the Reno-Sparks area in Washoe County, 12.3% compared to 5.6%.

The 14-day average of new daily cases has grown to 517 and hospitalizations to 705. Both are the highest levels since mid-February when they were 525 and 705, respectively.

The Nevada Hospital Association said in its weekly update that the state’s general population “appears desensitized to the threat” of the virus.

“Individuals are not following CDC guidelines related to mask wearing for unvaccinated persons or maintaining social distancing in crowded indoor locations,” the association said.

On the bright side, 2% of Nevadans received their first COVID-19 shot last week, compared to a national average of 1.5%, said Candice McDaniel, deputy director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Service.

Nearly 740 Nevadans per 100,000 population got their first dose, compared to the national average of 520, she said Thursday.

Overall, the state has seen a 32% increase in vaccinations since Gov. Steve Sisolak launched Vax Nevada Days on June 17 with $5 million in cash giveaways and other prizes, McDaniel said. About 42% of those came in the 12 to 17 age group.

Meanwhile, Washoe County reported its third death from the delta variant Wednesday, a woman in her 50s with an underlying health condition who had not been vaccinated. Of the 118 delta cases in the county, 11 people have been hospitalized and four were in the intensive care unit. Only one of those has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

“The delta variant is currently the dominant strain in Washoe County and the state of Nevada,” said Dr. Nancy Diao, division director for Epidemiology and Public Health Preparedness for the Washoe County Health District.

McDaniel said last week the rise in new cases is attributed to a mix the delta variant, increased travel, population density, vaccination rates that are lower than officials would like and extreme heat forcing people indoors and into close quarters.