LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The death rate for COVID-19 has reached 5% for the first time in Clark County.
Put simply, that means that five people have died out of every 100 positive tests for COVID-19 in Southern Nevada. And specifically, 196 people have died out of a total of 3,891 positive tests.
What does that mean? Is the virus hitting us harder than other places?
Likely, the answer lies in a lag in testing. We haven’t tested enough people to know how much the virus has spread. Only a small percentage of infected people ever show symptoms, but they are capable of spreading the disease.
The death rate out in the real world is not what scientists expect because we don’t know how many people have been exposed — the “total cases” numbers are artificially low because we just haven’t done thorough testing yet. If those total cases were higher, the death rate would be lower.
The Center for Disease Control says the fatality rate for COVID-19 is around 2.3%. That information is from early April.
But current statistics from the US show that 59,692 people have died out of a total of 1.04 million confirmed cases. That indicates a death rate of 5.7%, even higher than Southern Nevada’s rate.
A look at data from across the world is probably an indicator of huge variances in testing more than a particular vulnerability in other countries.
Here’s a look at the Las Vegas valley, and the number of cases in each ZIP code:
COVID-19 has spread so quickly that the world was caught unprepared, and that means several things.
The disease spread before we knew how dangerous it was because it takes 11-14 days for symptoms to show. People who were not even sick yet were spreading the virus.
Also, scientists didn’t yet know how the virus was spreading. It took time to understand how easily it was being transmitted, and so moves to shut down as much human interaction as possible took awhile to put into place.
And the equipment — PPE — to prevent the spread was in relatively short supply, even for medical professionals. The demand has skyrocketed for everything from masks to ventilators.
Moreover, testing supplies and the capacity to process tests became a problem as it became clear that we needed to test as many people as possible — not just people who were already displaying symptoms of COVID-19.