Nevada reports deadliest day since start of COVID pandemic
Nevada reported 48 new deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, marking the deadliest day since the onset of the pandemic as the state’s COVID-19 surge shows few signs of slowing and death totals peak throughout the U.S.
The state also reported 2,536 new confirmed virus cases, bringing the statewide totals to 159,532 cases and 2,249 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Nevada is more than a week into what Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak coined a “statewide pause” involving virus prevention measures, with the number of customers businesses can accept and the number of people allowed in gatherings reduced to 25% of fire codes limit.
The task force that evaluates the state’s coronavirus plan was expected to hear from representatives of hospitals, schools and the Gaming Control Board later Thursday.
Hospitals continue to face strain as beds fill and overflow requires additional staff. On Wednesday, the Nevada Hospital Association reported 81% of staffed beds were full, with 1,652 taken up by patients confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19.
There are still some beds available in part because hospitals like Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno have opened supplementary units to accommodate additional COVID-19 patients.
A new unit partially activated in the hospital’s parking garage had 42 patients as of Tuesday, but administrators said they could treat up to 1,400 patients if forced to activate the entire unit spanning two floors of the garage.
Earlier this week, with hospitals under increasing pressure, the Nevada Hospital Association put out and later retracted a statement about whether the state’s mitigation measures were helping to contain the virus.
“On and off again closures appear to be building animosity and apathy among the public and are proving ineffective,” associated officials said.
The association did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment about the bulletin, which has been removed.
Nevada COVID-19 response director Caleb Cage and Sisolak said they didn’t interpret the statement as a criticism of the state’s efforts, including the recent decision to reduce capacity for customers at businesses and gatherings of people.
Cage said health officials globally are struggling to manage COVID fatigue nine months into the pandemic.
Sisolak acknowledged the hospital association’s point but said tinkering with guidelines were the only way to balance the need to maintain economic activity while also containing the virus.
“People are frustrated with what’s happening: I get that,” the governor said. “We’ve had everything shut down. We opened it back up. We had to take a step back again.”
Sonner reported from Reno. Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.