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More than 1 month of declining coronavirus rates in Nevada

June 4, 2020 GMT

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada has seen more than a month of declining rates of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and positive tests for COVID-19, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday.

The governor said in a statement that Nevada has made significant progress meeting five benchmarks he set in late April in order to start easing restrictions on gatherings and business closures.

The Democrat said Nevadans who took the threat of the virus seriously helped the state “to slowly begin to reopen its communities and the economy on the path to a new normal.” His comments came hours after the state’s casinos that drive the economy began reopening after being shuttered for more than 11 weeks.

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Nevada has seen the rate of positive COVID-19 cases drop for at least 39 days, with 5.7% of all people having the disease out of everyone tested.

The rate of hospitalizations has declined for 43 days, the state has the ability to test patients who don’t show symptoms of the virus, and Nevada has set up a contact tracing system. The state also has the ability to intervene in any outbreaks, and all nursing homes have been inspected to ensure they are meeting U.S. government rules about infection control.

State public health officials said this week that the state plans to expand testing capacity in preparation for a potential second surge in new cases.

As the Silver State reopens, Nevada Public Health Laboratory Director Dr. Mark Pandori said the state would continue to rely on nasal tests that detect an active infection rather than antibody tests, which determine whether individuals were previously infected.

People should not assume that if a test shows they have have developed antibodies, they need to be less cautious, Pandori said. “We don’t recommend its use for individuals, but more for population study,” Pandori said at a Thursday news conference.

Nevada has had 429 people die from COVID-19, and more than 9,000 people have tested positive.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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Price reported from Las Vegas. Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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