LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 45% over the past week according to the Nevada Hospital Association (NHA).

The increase has been predominantly in Southern Nevada, NHA said in its weekly report.

Cooler weather and talk about last year’s “triple-demic” of COVID, flu and RSV cases raised awareness going into October, and there has been more attention to getting an updated COVID vaccination along with a flu shot. But numbers released by the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) Wednesday show that case numbers remain low.

“The hospital admission level for Clark County remains low, according to a Wednesday statement provided by SNHD. “We are entering into fall and winter virus season, and recommend everyone 6 months and older get their updated COVID-19 vaccine and seasonal flu vaccine to get the best protection against COVID-19’s and flu’s potentially serious complications. Both vaccines are currently available at Health District clinic locations, pharmacies and health care provider offices throughout Southern Nevada.”

A total of 326 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Clark County over the past week, according to SNHD. State data showed a total of 436 cases, with an average of 59 new cases each day. That’s the same level as reported last week. Statewide, 845 new cases were reported over the past week with an average of 110 new cases each day.

Case averages in the county have barely changed since late August, when they went up nearly 20% as the EG.5 “Eris” variant was circulating. SNHD data shows that variant is now responsible for more than 60% of the cases in Clark County. The next-largest number of cases is coming from the FL.1.5.1 “Fornax” variant — about 30% of cases.

New variants are weaker than initial versions of the COVID virus, and vaccinations have built resistance, but doctors still advise people to keep up-to-date on vaccinations. Drug manufacturer Pfizer estimates that only 17% of the U.S. population will get the updated vaccine. Take precautions if you have other conditions that could make you more susceptible to getting sick.

Regular statewide reports on hospitalizations stopped in the spring as cases dropped to low levels. No data on hospitalizations was available from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday. SNHD only provides a running total of the number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began in early 2020 (30,462).

The graphic above, released today by NHA, shows the statewide increase. Currently, 140 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 92 of those patients in Clark County, according to NHA.

The jump in hospitalizations only amounts to just over 40 patients statewide, and the 45% increase shouldn’t be seen as a “spike.” When case numbers and hospitalizations are at low levels, small increases can greatly affect percentages.

NHA notes that the current hospital occupancy rate is 76%, with pediatric beds at only 55% capacity. Pediatric ICU beds are currently at 41% capacity.

Emergency room visits are at a 7-day average of 3,997 statewide.

Week-to-week changes in total deaths during the pandemic suggest records are being adjusted to remove some deaths. Statewide, a total of 12,147 deaths are attributed to COVID-19, with 9,474 in Clark County.

NHA also provided an update on the availability of Paxlovid:

“The Department of Health and Human Services in November will begin transitioning to commercial distribution an estimated 7.9 million treatment courses of the COVID-19 antiviral pill Paxlovid under an agreement with Pfizer announced Friday. Authorized for emergency use, the supply will remain available for ordering from HHS through Dec. 15, 2023. Beginning in 2024, Pfizer will sell Paxlovid to privately insured patients and operate a federal copay assistance program for these individuals through 2028. Pfizer also will continue to operate a federal assistance program to offer the HHS-procured supply without cost to eligible Medicare, Medicaid, and uninsured patients through 2024 and to eligible uninsured and underinsured individuals from 2025 through 2028, updating any expired product. The company also will provide HHS with an additional 1 million treatment courses for the national stockpile.”