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Nevada’s COVID-19 Testing Rates Are Improving, But Still Lag Behind WHO Recommendation

A Nevada Guard Airman is leaning towards an open driver side windshield.
Nevada National Guard
A Nevada Guard Airman administers a COVID-19 test on the Reno-Sparks Indian-Colony in Hungry Valley, Nev., on Nov. 12, 2020.

Of all the people tested for COVID-19 in Nevada in early February, 11.8% tested positive for COVID-19.

Here’s why that number matters. A test positivity rate greater than 5% suggests higher than desired COVID-19 transmission rates. It also means the state may need to impose more restrictions to slow the spread, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

A map graphic showing Covid test positivity rates from Nevada and neighboring states. Nevada: 11.8%, California: 4.1%, Utah: 13.52%, Oregon: 3.6%, Arizona: 9%, Idaho: 6.6%.
Credit Shelly Suh / The Hitchcock Project
The Hitchcock Project
COVID-19 test positivity rates from Nevada and neighboring states. The World Health Organization says anything over 5% is too high, and the state needs to conduct more tests. This data was pulled from individual state websites on Wednesday, Feb. 17, and varies slightly by state.

Good news: Nevada’s number is trending down from the recent concerning peak of 21% testing positive in early January. Despite this positive direction, the state’s track record shows it hasn’t been able to maintain low positivity rates since the pandemic reached the United States in March. Nevada has only been able to maintain a test positivity rate below 5% for about thirty days, from late May into June.

A high test positivity rate also suggests some people who are infected with COVID-19 aren’t being tested, which means that those infected folks may not know they need to socially isolate.

The only ways to improve Nevada’s test positivity rate are: to do more testing, and more importantly, to reduce the COVID-19 transmission so fewer people get sick.

As of mid-February our more populous neighbor, California, has a test positivity rate of just over 3%.

The COVID-19 test positivity rates included in this story were collected from individual state websites on Feb. 17, 2021, and calculations vary slightly by state: Nevada, California, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Idaho.

This story was originally published to The Hitchcock Project for Visualizing Science's websiteon Feb. 22, 2021.

KUNR's Jayden Perez adapted this story for the web.

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