Nevada public health officials expect the number of COVID-19 cases in the state to rise due to the easing of many mitigation measures, a process that will continue on Saturday with the state turning most of the decisions on such measures over to local jurisdictions .
The transfer of authority, which will raise Clark County’s occupancy limits to 80 percent and make other changes, comes after a week of many of Nevada’s top COVID-19 metrics being above the most recent average. That was the case again on Friday, with the state reporting 510 new cases and five additional deaths.
State officials said Friday that they expect the relaxed rules will at least increase the number of cases. However, they don’t know what role vaccinations could play in dampening the surge, or whether it will increase hospital stays or deaths.
“As we see a decrease in containment measures, cases will increase,” said Caleb Cage, the state’s COVID-19 response director, at a news conference Friday. “So we need to monitor whether or not this surge in cases leads to an increase in hospital admissions … and the death rate.”
He said the surge in cases likely won’t be visible for weeks or months.
Cage added that state officials will continue to strike a balance between revitalizing the economy and keeping people safe.
“I think we will move on with this in mind and make sure we don’t unnecessarily endanger people,” he said.
In Clark County, the state-approved mitigation plan will not only increase occupancy, it will also reduce social distancing requirements from 6 feet to 3 feet.
60 percent vaccination goal
The county has announced that it will lift these limits entirely as soon as 60 percent of the 1.8 million county’s residents eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine have received at least one dose. According to Friday’s report, 45 percent of Nevadans ages 16 and older in Clark County have at least one dose, according to state data.
Friday’s Department of Health update of the state’s coronavirus website brought the total in the state to 315,438 cases and 5,464 deaths since the pandemic began.
All of the new registered deaths occurred in Clark County, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.
The new cases reported on Friday were well above the 14-day moving average of the daily registered cases, which fell slightly to 257. The deaths were just above the average of four daily deaths over the same period.
connected: Tracking Nevada coronavirus through data
The two-week average of cases climbed slowly for most of April from 226 at the beginning of the month to a recent high of 310 on April 20, before pulling back a little in the last few days.
The two-week mean death toll remained at five per day for the first two weeks of April before dropping to four in the second half of the month. The average is well below what it was a month ago, as March started with an average of 12 deaths reported daily, the data shows.
Flat rate positivity rate for the whole week
On Friday, the state’s two-week positivity rate, which essentially tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who were found to be infected, was 5.7 percent for the fifth straight day.
The rate had been falling steadily for about three months, until it rose from 4.2 percent to 5.9 percent in April. After falling 0.2 percentage points, it was unchanged this week.
The number of people in Nevada hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases also remained unchanged at 327 on Friday. Hospital admissions also rose slightly, ending the week over the 290 reported a week earlier.
State and county health departments often redistribute the daily dates after they are reported to better reflect the date of death or the onset of symptoms.
Clark County reported 392 new cases Friday, according to the Southern Nevada Health District’s coronavirus website. The cumulative totals for the county rose to 243,942 cases and 4,300 deaths.
The county’s two-week positivity rate remained at 5.6 percent, according to state data.