Health officials predict spike in COVID cases amid flood of new test results from Las Vegas

Nevada health officials are anticipating a sizable swell in new coronavirus cases after a record-setting day for test collections in Southern Nevada.

COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage on Thursday said officials had fixed lab reporting delays that mistakenly inflated caseloads reported in Clark County over the weekend, though he said Wednesday’s influx of test samples could mean another eye-popping spike in cases on Friday.

“We’re expecting to see some fairly significant increases in the next few days,” Cage said on a daily conference call with Nevada reporters. “This is a dynamic situation and many data points are being gathered and updated daily.”

More:Health officials say Nevada on track to meet coronavirus testing goals

Related:State health officials aim to fix COVID-19 data errors after misreported surge in new cases

Cage went on to say that 80 percent of the Silver State’s businesses are complying with a mask-wearing mandate announced last week by Gov. Steve Sisolak. He said 84 percent of Northern Nevada operations are abiding by the order, compared to 75 percent in Southern Nevada. Cage singled out bars and big-box retail stores as the top sources of noncompliance complaints. 

Officials also tried to head off an expected rise in cases over the long Fourth of July weekend, noting that many of the state’s past COVID spikes have come immediately after mass gatherings on holidays.

Julia Peek, Nevada’s deputy administrator of Community Health Services, urged residents to continue observing virus-prevention protocols as they celebrate Independence Day. 

“It remains critically important that people remember a mask is not a replacement for social distancing,” Peek added. 

People wait in line to enter after the reopening of the D Las Vegas hotel and casino Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. Casinos were allowed to reopen early Thursday after temporary closures as a precaution against the coronavirus. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Nevada has seen a record-smashing spike in new coronavirus cases since casinos reopened on June 4. 

The state’s running tally of cases reached 19,733 on Thursday, an increase of 632 cases since Wednesday morning. 

Fourteen additional deaths were reported, bringing the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Nevada to 525.

The number of confirmed virus-related hospitalizations sits at 502 — a new high since the outbreak began.

The state’s hospitals are now home to 662 confirmed and suspected cases of the disease, the highest mark seen since April 12.

James DeHaven is the politics reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. He covers campaigns, the Nevada Legislature and everything in between. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com right here