CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Caleb Cage, Nevada’s pandemic response director, said Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19 last week after developing flu-like symptoms during the prior weekend.
“I share my story with all of you now in hopes to remind Nevadans that the mitigation measures can work. The faster we can identify and contain cases, the more we can minimize spread to our friends, family, coworkers and loved ones,” Cage told reporters.
Following Cage’s diagnosis, which was first reported by the Nevada Independent last Friday, Gov. Steve Sisolak and members of his staff who had interacted with Cage were tested. The entire office transitioned to working from home and all of those tested received negative results.
Cage, who was heard coughing throughout an Oct. 7 call with reporters, said his symptoms had subsided and that he is continuing to work from home in line with the 14-day quarantine period recommended by public health professionals.
He said his diagnosis offered the governor’s office a hands-on opportunity to use the COVID Trace mobile app that Nevada rolled out in August to determine possible contacts and recommend individuals for testing. After Cage’s diagnosis, the governor’s spokesperson, Meghin Delaney, announced that Sisolak had tested negative.
Cage isn’t sure where he contracted the virus, but on an earlier press call, said his work schedule had precluded him from visiting businesses the state has gradually allowed to reopen. Cage said he and his family adhere to guidelines recommending social distancing and frequent hand-washing.
Nevada officials reported 569 new confirmed coronavirus cases and three new deaths on Monday. The number of new cases and the state’s positivity rate remain higher than in early September — before Sisolak announced plans to relax restrictions on gatherings and before the state task force loosened thresholds for “high risk” counties.
Nevada’s test positivity rate, as measured by a seven-day rolling average, is higher than the World Health Organization’s 5% reopening threshold.
Officials reported the rate had increased to 10.4%, up from 6.6% on Sept. 18, but that level is below the 15.8% reported on July 8. The number of cases, averaged over the past week, has risen by about 559 per day. By comparison, during the last week in July, new cases rose by an average of 1,037 daily.
During the summer, a corresponding uptick in deaths followed an uptick in daily reported cases, but the current spike underway has yet to translate to an increase in deaths throughout Nevada.
Cage said, in general, health officials expect an increase in deaths and hospitalizations to be followed in four to five weeks by an increase in confirmed cases. It’s still too soon to draw conclusions about the apparent lack of a correlation between recent confirmed cases and deaths in Nevada, he said.
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.