Caleb Cage, State of Nevada COVID-19 Response Director.

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The Nevada COVID-19 Task Force has loosened some of the statewide criteria for flagging counties as having elevated risk for disease transmission. 

The decision approved during a Thursday meeting could make it easier for some counties to avoid being flagged and having to implement stricter mitigation strategies. Kyra Morgan from the Department of Health and Human Services made the case for adjusting testing and test positivity criteria, saying the changes would add “cushion” to help account for data issues.

Currently, a county is flagged for elevated risk of disease transmission if it meets two of three criteria:

  • Average tests per day per 100,000 people being less than 150
  • Test positivity rate (paired with a case rate per 100,000 people greater than 50) being greater than 7%
  • Case rate per 100,000 people greater than 200

The task force approved changing thresholds for average tests per day from 150 to 100, and changing test positivity rate from 7% to 8% only when paired with a case rate greater than 50 per 100,000 people. 

These adjustments would not have a significant impact on whether counites are flagged for elevated risk of disease transmission, Morgan said. Humboldt and Washoe County, which were flagged during the meeting, would remain flagged under the new thresholds. 

“There’s very few changes in adopting this threshold. A lot of the counties that are not meeting the 150 tests per day are in fact actually still not going to meet 100 tests per day,” Morgan said. “This really gives some cushion for those counties that are falling really close to meeting that threshold in the range from 100 to 150.”

No changes have been made to the case rate threshold, which prompted Clark County Fire Chief Billy Samuels to ask why that criteria had not been adjusted. Task Force Chair Caleb Cage said he could not provide an answer during the meeting but would provide more information about the case rate criteria at a later time. 

As of Oct. 5, Humboldt and Washoe Counties remain flagged for elevated risk of disease transmission. Both counties have a test positivity rate of 8.4%, which is above the 7% threshold. Additionally, Humboldt County has insufficient testing per state standards, and Washoe County has a case rate per 100,000 people that is greater than 200. 

1005 covid county tracker

COVID-19 County Tracker last updated Oct. 5, 2020 (courtesy of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services)

Morgan at the Thursday meeting also presented new designs for the Nevada Health Response COVID-19 dashboard. The new designs would present data and trends in a more user-friendly manner and make it easier to compare data between counties and control for delays in reporting testing results, she said. 

The task force discussed and did not take an action on the dashboard changes that were presented. 

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