It’s too soon to say if the latest coronavirus wave has crested in Southern Nevada.
Dr. Cassius Lockett, director of disease surveillance and control with the Southern Nevada Health District, said today that some measures, like the daily number of new COVID-19 cases and test positivity rates, have started to “marginally decline” over the last couple of days.
Today saw 2,956 new cases. Tuesday saw 4,870 and Monday, 3,504. The rolling seven-day average test positivity rate inched down to 38.3% as of Monday, from 38.7% on Sunday and 39.7% on Saturday.
This is all encouraging, but two days don’t make a trend, Lockett said.
“We are still near the top of the epidemiological curve, and it is too early to say if we are seeing the end of the surge,” he said.
He wants to see test positivity drop for about a week and the presence of COVID in sewage to drop for about two or three weeks.
Wastewater surveillance provides underutilized data, Lockett said, but people who follow it can see patterns before they begin showing in other test types, like nasal swabs.
The virus is shed in human waste, like fecal material, making sewage from humans a prime place to observe the virus and its variants.
Increased availability of other test types is helping public health officials get a handle on the virus. Last week, Clark County added two mass testing sites to supplement the one at Sam Boyd Stadium, which was itself a recent upgrade from the large drive-through clinic at UNLV.
As of Monday, the testing site at Fiesta Henderson had given about 5,000 tests and the one at Texas Station had given about 7,000. Smaller community-based clinics at the Windmill, Enterprise and Sahara West libraries are also now open into the evening and on weekends.
Lockett said that the Health District only uses the results of PCR, or molecular, tests in determining test positivity. Rapid antigen tests, which are most of the at-home tests increasingly available through state and federal efforts, are not used to calculate local test positivity. Nor are test-givers required to report results to the Health District.
People who test positive on a rapid antigen test should let their close contacts know about potential exposure, Lockett said.
The Health District will collect data on antigen results, though. To voluntarily self-report results, click here.