Young people comprise bulk of COVID cases in Southern Nevada

testing testing
Firefighter Nick Giles instructs a passenger on how to swab their nose at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at the Boulder City Fire Department on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The testing site is a partnership between Boulder City, Boulder City Hospital, and the Southern Nevada Health District. (Photo: Daniel Clark)
testing testing
Firefighter Nick Giles instructs a passenger on how to swab their nose at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at the Boulder City Fire Department on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The testing site is a partnership between Boulder City, Boulder City Hospital, and the Southern Nevada Health District. (Photo: Daniel Clark)

People ages 20 to 40 make up 40 percent of Southern Nevada’s positive cases of COVID-19, signaling a major shift in the demographics of the disease that is likely being exposed by expanded testing, officials say.  Previous testing criteria focused on high-risk groups such as seniors.  

“It’s come down about 20 years,” University Medical Center CEO Mason Van Houweling said at a news conference Tuesday of the average age of those infected by the coronavirus.  

Van Houweling said hospitals are seeing “an uptick in kids,” noting 3 percent of positive tests in Southern Nevada are age 10 and under.  He said doctors are observing “neurological impairment” in young patients.

Southern Nevada’s 4,750 hospital beds are 74 percent occupied, according to Van Houweling.  

While 84 percent of Intensive Care Unit beds are occupied, only about a third are COVID patients.

Less than half of Southern Nevada’s ventilators are in use. 

“I don’t feel comfortable moving forward to Phase Three at this point,” Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said.  

Kirkpatrick promised enforcement against businesses that are not complying with face covering and social distancing mandates.  She said those “bad actors” are hurting the effort for everyone.  

“We will be enforcing and it’s for public health so we can stay open,” she said. 

Kirkpatrick noted Southern Nevada’s COVID transmission rate, among the nation’s highest at 1.7 per positive case, will get worse if the spread is not contained.

“For every one person who has the virus they are giving it to one and seven-tenths of a percent,” she said, warning that the rate could increase precipitously.  

Kirkpatrick said government officials consulted with other states before reopening casinos to learn their plans. 

“But we had to be the gold standard,” she said. “We are light years ahead of them.” 

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana is the mother of four adult children, three cats, three dogs and a cockatoo.