LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada reported a record-high 62 deaths statewide from COVID-19 on Thursday, state health officials said.
The news comes as more hospitals in Las Vegas are nearing full capacity and state officials expressed hope increased shipments of the vaccine from the federal government next week will help them ramp up a vaccination effort that’s been slow to get off the ground due in part to uncertainty about supplies of the drugs.
Ten of the 14 hospitals in the Las Vegas area are at 90% of capacity or higher, a trend that is expected to continue to rise through mid-February, state biostatistician Kyra Morgan told Nevada’s mitigation task force on Thursday.
The 62 new deaths reported Thursday surpassed the previous single-day record of 60 reported on Jan. 6. Health officials have now reported 256,172 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,658 deaths since the pandemic began.
The statewide positivity rate increased slightly from 21.5% Wednesday to 21.6% Thursday. The highest rate was 22.3% on Dec. 8.
Most infections have been in the Las Vegas area, where most of the state’s nearly 3 million people live. The Southern Nevada Health District has tallied 196,136 cases and 2,762 deaths.
The number of infections is thought to be higher because many people have not been tested and some people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
Meanwhile, Nevada’s U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto joined more than 40 Democratic Senate colleagues calling for U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to provide more vaccine to states, and quicker. They said the approximately 4 million vaccine doses administered nationwide before the end of 2020 was only about one-fifth the 20 million doses that had been promised.
Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick complained in Reno earlier this week about the lack of information the federal government has been providing about the amount of vaccine that will be made available in the coming weeks, months or even days.
“I’m frustrated about that right now,” Dick said Wednesday. “We are just continuing to hear there is all this vaccines that is going to be viable but they are not telling us when or how much. ... On Friday, we know what we’ll get on Monday.”
Candice McDaniel, Nevada's Health Bureau chief, told the task force Thursday 36,000 vaccine doses are expected to arrive next week.
About 70,000 vaccine doses have been received since Dec. 14 by the Southern Nevada Health District and almost 29,000 vaccinations have been administered at area hospitals, the district office, at long-term care facilities and to emergency medical and pharmacy technicians, officials said.
Some 50,000 front-line workers are expected to receive second doses, said JoAnn Rupiper, district clinical services chief and head of the vaccination campaign, “and then we’re moving down the line to nursing homes.”
Depending on supply, Rupiper said the goal is to nearly double the number of vaccinations administered by the end of the month, to about 45,000 per week.
The Washoe County Health District has received 22,760 does of the vaccine and had administered 8,708 does as of Tuesday, Dick said. He said there are about 30,000 residents in Washoe County who are age 75 or older.
McDaniel said there are about 500,000 Nevada residents 65 or older who eventually are expected to be vaccinated.
A new study found about one-third of Nevada residents say they are unlikely to choose to get vaccinated.