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Rigorous studies show that school shutdowns did nothing to stop the spread of COVID. (Photo: Rido/Shutterstock)

NV DHHS Releases Damning Report of Pandemic Impact On Battle Born State

The report considers the tertiary effects of the state’s pandemic response from an economic, socioeconomic and behavioral health perspective

By Megan Barth, June 17, 2024 3:40 pm

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (NV DHHS) Office of Analytics has published an 83 page report entitled, “Symptoms of the Disease: The Epidemiological, Economic, and Public Health Impacts of COVID-19 on the Battle Born State.” (See below). The report considers the tertiary effects from an economic, socioeconomic and behavioral health perspective of the state’s pandemic response.

The report provides background and summarizes: “On March 12, 2020, just one week after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was identified in Nevada, then-Governor Steve Sisolak declared a state of emergency in response to the pandemic. By March 20, 2020, “non-essential” businesses were closed, large events were cancelled, and schools were moved to virtual rather than in-person learning in an attempt to slow the rate of transmission and “flatten the curve.”

Shortly after, a stay at home order was issued by the Governor. Business closures lasted through June 2020 and by that time, Nevada’s unemployment rate had more than doubled, from 7 percent to 19 percent, with the rate reaching 31 percent in April. These emergency orders led to a net loss of small businesses in the first two quarters of 2020 for the first time since 2013.”

According to the report, the economic impacts of the pandemic were not isolated to the destruction of jobs or delaying of new job positions. The pandemic likely resulted in a compression of real wages for workers, as cumulative wage growth had a 60 percent (weekly) and 33 percent chance (hourly) of surpassing cumulative inflation between March 2020 and December 2022. 

Pandemic timeline in Nevada. (Photo: Screenshot)

The additional lowlights in the report include a decrease in life expectancy, an increase in government dependency, a decrease in educational achievement, and a decrease in affordable housing due to inflationary spending post pandemic. The report details:

  • As of December 2022, it was estimated that 94,692 years of life had been lost to COVID-19 in Nevada. Disproportionately impacted populations include adults aged 40 to 69, especially those aged 50 to 69, as well as non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders.
  • Business closures caused an increase in unemployment and significantly more Nevadans meeting the income-based eligibility criteria for enrollment in Nevada Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other social programs. In 2020, the federal government implemented a pause on Medicaid redeterminations which led to a 41 percent increase in Medicaid enrollment between March 2020 and December 2022.
  • In 2022 alone, $3.6 billion was spent providing health care to Nevadans on Medicaid. Medicaid accounted for 30 percent of state expenditures in state fiscal year 2022, with a year-over- year (YOY) caseload growth of 264,072 Nevadans, or 40 percent.
  • In any given month of 2021, more than one in four Nevadans, and one in every two Nevada children, relied on Medicaid for their health care coverage. Of those, approximately 31 percent utilized health care monthly.

Predominantly for mental health.

Medicaid claims (Screenshot)
  • Between March 2020 and December 2022, Nevada lost nearly 4 million months of employment and $15,049,433,405 in salaries and wages – or approximately $3,821 per employment month.
  • Nevada also reported the 13th largest reduction in fourth grade assessment results in the nation, with fourth grade composite scores falling by nearly six points between 2019 and 2022. When compared other states and the District of Columbia, Nevada had the 23rd largest reduction in ACT scores.
  • Following the pandemic, Nevada became the seventh worst state in terms of home affordability – substantially worse than in 2012, when Nevada was the 26th most affordable state in the nation. Homelessness increased in the state for the first time in just under a decade, rising 10 percent between 2020 and 2022.
  • Substance use related deaths were at their lowest in 2019 at 4.3 per 100,000 population, and subsequently increased starting in quarter one of 2020 through 2022 with a high of 9.0 in quarter three of 2022. By 2020, drug-related death rates had a nearly 50 percent increase compared to the previous year’s average, reaching their highest level in six years in quarter three of 2021.
  • The non-Hispanic Black population was the most adversely affected group for substance related deaths during the pandemic. In quarter two of 2020, the rate of alcohol-related deaths increased 54 percent from the previous quarter (from 7.7 to 11.9 per 100K population) and remained higher than pre-pandemic rates through 2022.

The report cites that in 2021, there were 5,145 COVID-19 deaths in Nevada. COVID-19 accounted for the largest percentage of race-specific deaths among Hispanics at 27 percent, followed by non-Hispanic Asian/Pacific Islanders at 24 percent and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Natives at 20 percent of all race-specific deaths. That percentage dropped for non-Hispanic Blacks to 15 percent of deaths and COVID-19 made up the lowest percent of race-specific deaths for non-Hispanic Whites at 13 percent of deaths.

Although these numbers were listed as the leading cause of death among various ethnic groups, the Centers for Disease Control advised health care professionals in hospital settings to list COVID as the cause of death, despite the patient’s medical history of various co-morbidities and chronic diseases that would compromise immunity and complicate recovery.

Nevada COVID-19 Impact Report - April 2024(1)



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