The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to drop in Clark County, with Nevada among a handful of states with all of its counties experiencing low levels of the disease.
Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Washington are the only states in which all counties have low community levels of COVID-19 — a metric based on case numbers and hospitalizations — according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One reason that states in the West are faring better, statistically speaking, is that they have fewer and larger counties than do eastern states, said Brian Labus, an epidemiologist and biostatistician with UNLV’s School of Public Health. Eastern states with higher numbers of counties are more likely to have at least one at medium or high levels of COVID-19.
Nationwide, new cases have dropped 24 percent over the prior week, CDC data shows. State data shows that Nevada’s declines are even steeper.
In Clark County, the 14-day average for new confirmed cases decreased to 104, down 31 percent from the prior week’s 150, according to data posted Wednesday by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. Statewide, cases declined to 132 from the prior week’s 188, a decrease of 30 percent.
Labus does not expect to see a major wave of COVID-19, in either the community or the country, for the remainder of the winter.
“Unless we have some major seismic shift in the strains that are out there, I don’t think anybody would expect us to see some sort of massive increase in COVID,” he said. That’s because the population has built up some level of immunity from prior infection and from vaccination, he said.
COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide appear to have plateaued, the Nevada Hospital Association stated in a weekly report. Eleven percent of emergency room visits are related to COVID-19 symptoms, the same percentage as last week and a proportion that has been declining.
Confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations increased in the county by 19 percent to 226 from 190 a week ago. Statewide, they increased by 13 percent, to 248 from 219 a week ago. Although showing fluctuations, both hospitalizations and case numbers have been trending downward.
The state hospital association said that Nevada’s hospital system is feeling less strain from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, including flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Hospital admissions for flu and RSV continue to decline, it said.
Labus noted that a feared “tripledemic” of COVID-19, flu and RSV has not come to pass this winter. And he doesn’t think it’s going to.
“We’re past that point where we’re really worried about COVID virus or other viruses coming together and overwhelming our hospital system,” he said.
For months, however, hospital pediatric units have been under considerable strain. The occupancy rates in Nevada pediatric intensive care units, while high at 92 percent, are below 98 percent for the first time in almost nine weeks, according to the hospital association. The occupancy rate in pediatric wards is 69 percent.
Public health authorities caution that there could be another wave of flu this winter.
“While flu and RSV rates are declining, COVID-19 and flu vaccines are still highly recommended as flu continues to circulate and there can be more than one wave of respiratory illness increase during a season,” the Washoe County Health District said in a news release.
State statistics show that the 14-day average for daily new COVID-19 deaths remains at one in both Clark County and Nevada.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 11,875 COVID-19 deaths in Nevada, 9,285 of them in Clark County, according to state data.