- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2020

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The coronavirus has claimed 10 lives in Nevada, including the first person younger than 50, state health officials said Thursday.

The four new deaths confirmed Thursday were the most in a single day. They included a man from Clark County in his 30s with underlying medical conditions, according to the Southern Nevada Health District. Another Clark County man in his 60s was the first victim in Nevada with no known underlying medical conditions.

There are 420 cases of coronavirus statewide. All 10 deaths have occurred in the Las Vegas area, with the first confirmed on March 16.

The disclosures came as a report was released ranking Nevada among the three worst states nationally in hospital preparedness for the coronavirus outbreak based on the number of hospital beds and physicians per 1,000 people. The other two are Utah and Idaho.

The new study by QuoteWizard, an online insurance advertising marketer owned by LendingTree, is based on an analysis of Kaiser Family Foundation data that shows Nevada’s average is two physicians and two beds per 1,000 people. Nationwide, there are an average of 2.96 physicians and 2.4 hospital beds per 1,000 people.

As of last week, the Nevada Hospital Association reported 76% of the rooms in intensive care units in Nevada were occupied, as were 84% of the overall number of licensed and staffed hospital beds. Those numbers were last updated March 17.

Meghin Delaney, chief spokeswoman for the Nevada Health Response Center established by Gov. Steve Sisolak, said officials hoped to start updating figures each day as early as Friday.

Sisolak has warned that the virus “is going to get worse before it gets better.”

“Like so many other states, Nevada’s health system will not be able to handle an excessive increase in patients all at once without rapidly straining resources,” he said.

Dr. Tony Slonim, president and CEO of Renown Health in Reno, said the public seems to be focused on equipment shortages, including ventilators.

Just as important, he said, is that “we have an ample number of people to care for people who may get sick. We need to have specialists who can run ventilators.”

For most people, the coronavirus 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 more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The 30-39 age group accounts for about one in five of the cases in Nevada - the most of any single age group. People in 10-year groups beginning at 20 account for between 14% and 16% of the positive cases. People 70 and older make up 12%.

Five people in their 60s have died, two in their 70s, and one each in their 30s, 50s and 80s, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

In other Nevada coronavirus news:

- Gov. Sisolak recorded an online question-and-answer session with Dr. Shadaba Asad, infectious disease director at University Medical Center in Las Vegas and a member of the governor’s coronavirus advisory team.

- Nevada prison officials reported that inmates were being kept in their cells at a southern Nevada prison that serves as the intake center for all new Las Vegas-area inmates after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Corrections chief Charles Daniels said in a statement the unnamed employee was in isolation at home, teams were sanitizing surfaces at prison facilities, and medical staff members were monitoring inmates for virus symptoms including cough, fever and shortness of breath. High Desert prison has a capacity of more than 4,100 inmates. Nevada has about 13,000 prisoners statewide.


Associated Press writer Ken Ritter in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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