CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada reported 28 additional COVID-19 related deaths Tuesday, the highest single-day total since the start of the pandemic, bringing the statewide total to 676 deaths.

Caleb Cage, the state’s pandemic response chief, said the spike could be caused by delays in reporting over weekends and didn’t mean that 28 Nevada residents had passed away in a day’s time, up from one reported Monday.

“Typically, we see low numbers reported on Sunday and Monday and increase in an increase on Tuesday,” he said.

In Las Vegas, authorities said Tuesday that more than 400 people are being added to efforts to investigate positive tests for COVID-19 and contact people who may have been exposed.

They also showed examples of automated but official text messages and emails that people might receive if they test positive for the new coronavirus.

The number of people tested in Clark County is nearing 300,000 and the number of positive tests tops 32,000. Health, emergency and elected officials said more investigators and contact tracers will be needed to, in county Fire Chief John Steinbeck’s words, “look at every case so that we can box this up and keep it from spreading to the next person.”

Half the additional investigators and contact tracers will be contractors, others will come from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and some will be county Family Services employees, officials said.

They’ll augment the 60 Southern Nevada Health District staff members already working on COVID-19 cases.

After weeks of experiencing a steady rise in the number of new cases reported daily, Nevada is experiencing a corresponding increase in its death toll. The number of fatalities averaged over a seven-day period has increased in the state throughout July.

Cage said 70% of hospital beds, 69% of intensive care unit beds and 39% of ventilators were in use statewide.

A total of 37,528 people have tested positive for the virus in Nevada since the onset of the pandemic.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. 

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe illness including pneumonia and death. The vast majority recover.

In other developments:

State unemployment officials said about half the jobs idled when casinos and businesses were shut down in mid-March have been filled since reopening began in June. 

The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said job growth in the Las Vegas area led the way, followed by Reno and Carson City. It said the return of leisure and hospitality jobs were the biggest factor. Nearly 100,000 jobs returned in June.

The seasonally adjusted June unemployment rate was 15%, down from a high of 30% in April. 

Department economist David Schmidt said the COVID-19 pandemic could affect Nevada’s labor market for several more months.

 “The month’s numbers reflect the significant impact of policy restrictions on Nevada’s businesses, including hotel casinos, and the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on employment and unemployment in the state. As of June’s report Nevada has recovered nearly half the jobs lost and the State’s unemployment rate declined from 30.1% to 15%,” said Schmidt. 

“While encouraging, it is important to remember that conditions have changed since the middle of June, and the evolving public health landscape and necessary restrictions will continue to impact Nevada’s labor market for several months to come.”

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