LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Nevada is seeing a surge in new COVID-19 infections and according to new data from the Nevada Hospital Association, the progress made over the past three months to contain the virus has been wiped out.
According to the association, hospitalizations for both confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients have reached levels not seen since the middle of August.
As of the newest available data, 891 patients associated with COVID-19 are hospitalized in Clark County.
"We've been monitoring it very closely for the last month, we always knew that the weather would get colder in late October and through Thanksgiving. we're getting ready to increase our testing," said Clark County Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick says additional business closes are not being considered at this time.
She notes the spread appears to be associated with gatherings and activities removed from businesses.
Test positivity rate and the 7-day moving average for new cases have surged to near or at record highs.
On Monday, Pfizer announced their late trial vaccine has shown to be at least 90% effective to guard against the virus.
That announcement sent the stock market soaring, along with local gaming stocks early Monday.
"This is incredibly exciting news," said Dr. Marc J. Kahn, Dean of the UNLV School of Medicine.
"Pfizer is one of several vaccines that are now in phase 3 trials and it's really good to see a vaccine with this level of efficacy," added Dr. Kahn.
Already, UNLV and Clark County are working towards distributing the vaccine once it is granted emergency use authorization from the FDA which is expected as early as next week.
Dr. Khan predicts the vaccine, one mass-produced, will be widely available in the first half of 2021.
"We're already started manufacturing, but we have to manufacture and distribute the vaccine, this is a vaccine that's given in two doses, three weeks apart," explained Dr. Kahn.
The type of vaccine uses M-RNA and relies on the human body to make the proteins necessary to guard against the virus.
This approach also requires special handling of the vaccine itself.
"It needs to be kept very cold, at about -80 degrees Fahrenheit, your refrigerator at home is probably around 25 degrees and your freezer is about 0 degrees, so -80 degrees is really cold and requires some special processing," said Dr. Kahn.
In the meantime, Nevada is among several states bracing for a long winter of increased virus spread.
Authorities are urging people to keep practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing hands.