Nevada’s COVID-19 test positivity rate on Monday increased for the first time in nearly three months, according to state data.
The uptick in the two-week daily positivity rate to 4.3 percent came after a week where the rate remained unchanged at 4.2 percent. It is first time the positivity rate has increased since Jan. 13, when it peaked at 21.6 percent, according to state data. The metric essentially tracks the percentage of people tested for COVID-19 who are found to be infected.
The increase comes on the first day of expanded vaccine eligibility for Nevadans 16 and older.
Caleb Cage, Nevada’s COVID-19 response director, said at a news briefing Monday that the positivity rate is still well below the 5 percent threshold recommended by the World Health Organization before governments consider easing restrictions but acknowledged that state officials are closely monitoring the metric.
He also noted that unlike the previous surges of the disease caused by the coronavirus, the state has a new weapon in its disease-fighting arsenal.
“This is the first time that we’re seeing this occur with the vaccine as a tool to address this virus and so right now we have to watch and see a couple of things,” he said.
Among other things, state experts will look at hospitalizations, intensive care unit patient levels and mortality rates to see if the consequences of increased cases are as severe as they were in the past given the vaccines all have shown the ability to prevent more-severe cases of COVID-19.
Nevada public health officials on Monday also reported 181 new coronavirus cases and one additional death in the state over the preceding day.
Updated numbers from the state Department of Health and Human Services pushed Nevada’s cumulative totals to 305,357 cases and 5,275 deaths. The lone death reported in the state on Monday came from Elko County.
New cases were below the two-week moving average of 197 per day. Over the same period, Nevada averaged three deaths per day.
Health officials in many rural counties do not work on weekends, which can cause lower numbers on Mondays, the state’s COVID-19 response director has said.
Numbers posted to the state’s coronavirus data page showed 299 people with either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 were hospitalized in Nevada. That’s an increase of 16 patients from the previous day, according to the web page.
Meanwhile, Clark County 14-day positivity rate remained at 4.1 percent after increasing over the weekend.
The county reported 105 new cases but no new deaths, bringing the local cumulative case total to 235,695 and leaving the death toll at 4,132. County numbers are reflected in statewide totals.