COVID-19 hospitalizations continued to rise this week, underscoring Friday’s announcement that Clark County is experiencing a high community level of the disease.
The number of patients hospitalized with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 in the county increased to 351 from last week’s 276, according to data released Wednesday by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. Statewide, there were 410 hospitalizations.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4.3 percent of staffed inpatient hospital beds in Clark County are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Last week, the figure was 3.4 percent.
“Currently, while steadily increasing, COVID-19 is not negatively impacting the ability or capabilities of the healthcare infrastructure to function normally,” the Nevada Hospital Association said.
But there was a hint of possible trouble ahead. The association said that Nevada hospitals are reporting “employee illness and increased absenteeism.” By next week, the association said it may change its risk assessment for Southern Nevada from “no concern” — which means that hospitals are functioning in a conventional manner — to the “watch” category, where metrics and mitigation measures are under study.
“Hospitals are watching patient admission carefully and will adapt if patient admissions increase,” association representative Jeanne Corbit said in an email. “We will employ the knowledge and experience gained from the past two years.”
Hospitalizations are considered a better indicator than case numbers of disease trends and their impact on a community.
The county’s two-week average of daily confirmed cases rose to 728 from 599 last week, according to state data. Statewide, the figure increased to 943 from 773.
However, figures from the CDC showed that the weekly rate of new cases per 100,000 people in the county had declined to 228 from 256.
The two-week moving average of daily fatalities for both the state and county held at one, according to the state health department.
On Friday, the Southern Nevada Health District announced that Clark County was experiencing a high community level of disease, a CDC designation based on hospitalization and case rates. In keeping with federal guidance, the district strongly encouraged mask-wearing in public indoor spaces.
However, state and county governments have shown no appetite for again mandating indoor mask-wearing. And state gaming regulators aren’t requiring masking in casinos.
But federal facilities, such as Nellis Air Force Base and the visitors center at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, have reinstated a requirement for indoor mask-wearing stemming from the designation.
Meanwhile, there have been 698,859 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Nevada, with 527,797 in Clark County, according to state data.
The health district said Wednesday it has identified 24,914 reinfections in Clark County since June 2020. It defines a reinfection as a positive COVID-19 PCR test result collected at least 90 days after an initial positive PCR test.
The state reports 10,967 total deaths from COVID-19, including 8,574 Clark County.