Nye County — and Pahrump specifically — are classified as “yellow zone” localities in an unpublished document prepared for the White House coronavirus task force. The document suggests counties in “yellow zones,” along with what are known as “red zones,” should roll back certain reopening measures implemented by the state.
As a state, Nevada is classified as “red zone,” as is Clark County, in the internal document released by nonprofit the Center for Public Integrity. Specific “red zone” localities are Las Vegas, Henderson and Paradise, while Reno, Elko, Carson City, Fernley and Fallon join Pahrump as “yellow zone” localities.
Nevada is in the red zone for cases, indicating more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week, and the red zone for test positivity, indicating a rate above 10%. Clark, Washoe and Elko counties had the highest number of cases over the past three weeks, according to a state report, and those counties represent 97.7% of new cases in Nevada. While the numbers are lower, Nye County ranked fourth in the state for new cases.
A “yellow zone” designation is placed on counties that reported both new cases between 10 and 100 per 100,000 population and a diagnostic test positivity result between 5% and 10%, or one of those conditions and one qualifying for being in the red zone.
The document suggests that Nevada, alongside at least a dozen other states considered to be in a “red zone,” should revert to more stringent measures, including limits on social gathering and other actions.
For counties in “yellow zones,” in order to prevent exponential community spread, the document suggests that several policies should be in place: wearing a mask at all times outside and social distancing, limiting social gatherings to 25 or fewer people, not going to bars or nightclubs, and using take-out or outdoor dining.
The document also suggests that indoor dining is acceptable when strict social distancing can be maintained; other policy suggestions include reducing normal activity and other measures.
The report, dated July 14, indicated Nevada had 173 new cases per 100,000 population in the past week, compared to the national average of 119 per 100,000.
In its daily press bulletin, Nevada Health Response on Thursday reported a daily positivity rate of 24.3% and a cumulative test positivity rate of 8.6%. The state set a record of 1,447 new cases Thursday.
The statewide hospital occupancy rate is 77%, while intensive care units are at an occupancy rate of 84%. About 40% of ventilators statewide are in use.
Contact tracing has identified 18%, or 5,748, of cases. Contract tracers are working 12 hours a day, seven days a week. As of July 15, they had logged 856 calls and sent 1,071 text messages to reach people who might have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Mark Pandori, Nevada’s testing chief, said the state is at a comfortable level of testing supplies and does not anticipate a shortage in the near future.
Nevada Health Response closed its report by stating, “Given the increase in numbers, it is extremely important to social distance, wear a mask, not socialize in big groups and maintain general hygiene and cleanliness.”
Under the governor’s emergency directives, local governments are granted authority to promulgate additional COVID-19 related rules and regulations for their locality that are more restrictive than those issued by the governor’s office, which said it will continue to monitor COVID-19 data and information on a daily basis and take proactive actions to help slow the spread of COVID-19.