Nevada on Tuesday recorded 40 coronavirus deaths —the second-highest one-day toll since the start of the pandemic, according to state data.
The fatalities reported by the Department of Health and Human Services on its coronavirus website were second only to the total on Thursday, when 48 fatalities were added. The seven day-moving average of daily fatalities reached 28, on Tuesday, one of many record highs established during the current surge.
The latest update also added 2,694 COVID-19 cases for the state, slightly above the moving seven-day average of daily reported cases: 2,631.
The updated data brought totals in the state to 173,281 cases and 2,359 deaths.
The two-week positivity rate calculated by the health department increased by 0.6 percentage points on Tuesday, reaching 21.8 percent. It’s the highest the rate has been since the state started reporting the statistic in mid-October.
End of ‘pause’ draws near
The state is on day 15 of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s 21-day “pause,” tighter COVID restrictions imposed in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, but none of the key metrics the state monitors have decreased in the past two weeks.
At a virtual news conference last week, Sisolak said more restrictions are possible if numbers don’t improve, although he has not elaborated on what further restrictions would entail.
“If we do not begin to see a change in our trajectory, and if this crisis continues to get worse, we will be left in the unfortunate position of having to take stronger actions — something I have been desperately trying to avoid,” he said.
Far from easing, the situation at state hospitals has been deteriorating since Sisolak’s announcment, with admissions of recently infected COVID-19 patients rising in lockstep with case numbers and deaths.
The Nevada Hospital Association reported Tuesday that the number of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in Southern Nevada remained at high levels, with 87 percent of licensed beds and 76 percent of adult ICU beds occupied, according to its data.
That compares with statewide averages of 82 percent of licensed hospital beds and 72 percent of adult intensive care beds occupied.
‘An encouraging signal’
The association did find a hopeful sign in its Tuesday update in Northern Nevada, saying the number of new cases added daily there showed signs of slowing.
“It is too early to draw any conclusions, but this is an encouraging signal,” the association said.
In the meantime, the state continues to set daily records for the number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 1,784 as of Tuesday.
The association reported Monday that the number of hospitalized patients had more than doubled from a month ago,
The surge in patients has led some hospitals to take steps to avoid reaching or exceeding capacity.
University Medical Center CEO Mason Van Houweling said Monday that elective surgeries scheduled this week at the Las Vegas hospital are being delayed, and post-surgery recovery areas are being converted into intensive care unit space.
Totals in the county rose to 131,510 cases and 1,883 deaths. Both figures are included in the state reporting.
Testing milestone celebrated
Health district officials also took note of a positive milestone: administration of the 400,000th free COVID-19 test in the county since May. The tests have been conducted through county programs, the health district, University Medical Center, the Nevada National Guard, local cities, ambulance companies and other providers.
“Testing is an important tool in our ongoing response to this pandemic, Dr. Fermin Leguen, the acting chief health officers for the county health district, stated in the release. “However, as the case counts, hospitalizations and deaths increase in our community, we cannot lose sight of the fact that each number reported represents someone’s family member or friend.”