Nevada is reaching somber coronavirus milestones, topping 58,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began and approaching 1,000 deaths, state health officials acknowledged Wednesday.
Washoe County's health district officer in Reno also warned against complacency in the face of recent reductions in the spread of the virus.
“We are in a precarious moment right now,” Kevin Dick told reporters Wednesday. “It's important to remember this is a long-term effort. It's not really going to be over until we see a vaccination.”
The confirmed cases reported day-to-day by the state Department of Health and Human Services brought the number to 58,048, with at least 996 deaths.
In Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada Health District has tallied 50,081 confirmed cases and 842 deaths, or nearly 85% of the state’s fatalities.
“Those numbers are telling and they’re sobering as we look back at these last four months," said Caleb Cage, the state's COVID-19 response chief.
Cage said the figures match national and global trends, and reflect not just statistics but the number of people sickened since the first case of the coronavirus was detected in Nevada in early March.
The marks are “reminders to us that the mitigation efforts that we’ve put in place are necessary, and will continue to be necessary going forward," he said. Cage pointed to a slowing since Aug. 1 in the number of new cases reported daily.
Wednesday's figure was the lowest since July 7.
“We are fortunately in a down trend,” Dick said. “(But) we are still at levels that are very, very high and far above where we were in June.”
“What we’ve seen before is while we had some trends that moved in the direction, then people have stopped being vigilant and let up on their efforts to prevent the spread. As a result, we’ve seen a resurgence of COVID-19,” he said.
“We don’t want to end up in a situation where have short term success with numbers decreasing and that results in a new high plateau, that becomes the base for an even further surge to a new peak," he said.
Cage called face coverings and masks “absolutely critical to our efforts here in the state and worldwide," along with hand-washing and measures to reduce person-to-person contact and limit room occupancy to 50%.
State community health official Julia Peek said nearly 9,200 people who have tested positive were identified through efforts to trace people who had come in contact with infected people.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for up to three weeks. But older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death. The vast majority of people recover.
In other developments:
— A task force led by former MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren is partnering with nonprofits to connect Clark County school students to the internet as officials keep classrooms closed and try to shift students to online learning. The Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief and Recovery Task Force led by Murren announced Wednesday it was partnering with The Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation, Communities In Schools Nevada and The Public Education Foundation on the effort, which they hope to expand to schools throughout the state.
Associated Press writer Scott Sonner contributed to this report from Reno.