By SAM METZ AP / Report for America
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada health officials reported 445 new coronavirus cases on Friday, reflecting a minor uptick from the average number the state has reported over the past two weeks. There were also 11 new deaths reported.
A total of more than 302,000 people have tested positive for the virus and 5,226 have died since the start of the pandemic a year ago. Recently, the state has reported far fewer cases and deaths than it did at the peak of a surge several months ago.
Still, officials are monitoring whether relaxed prevention measures that accompanied the decline could be leading to another surge in cases.
Photographs from a casino in Las Vegas showed swarms of people crowding its pool, prompting Gaming Control Board Chairman J. Brin Gibson to notify resorts that their pools remain subject to a 50% capacity cap.
The statewide directives are “clear that variants of the COVID-19 virus do exist, and medical experts have determined that several of these variants are significantly more contagious than the original virus,” he said.
Nevada has fully vaccinated more than 437,000 residents, or roughly 14% of the population. The state plans to open up vaccine appointments to people 16 and older on April 5, but officials have repeatedly said availability depends on supplies provided by the federal government.
Nevada Health Bureau Chief Candice McDaniel said health officials were confident they could manage the challenges expected to accompany making hundreds of thousands more people eligible for vaccinations.
Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.