What's the 'Kraken' variant of COVID-19? And has it arrived in Clark County?

What’s the ‘Kraken’ variant of COVID-19? And has it arrived in Clark County?

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The full COVID-19 report for Jan. 3-9 appears below.

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Weekly reports brought more signs that COVID-19 levels have flattened out in Clark County, with hospitalizations dropping and case levels up only slightly compared to last week.

The “Kraken” variant making news around the world hasn’t been detected yet in genetic sequencing reported by the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD). Only two cases were detected in the most recent report from the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory in Reno. That report, from late December, indicated Kraken was detected in 3% of all cases sequenced.

The exotic nickname assigned to the XBB.1.5 variant has people curious, but Kraken is much like previous omicron variants and vaccines will help control it, according to an article in Scientific American this week. The original XBB variant was blamed for a wave of cases in Singapore last year, and U.S. media reports indicate XBB.1.5 is a factor in the surge of hospitalizations in New York.

Kraken is unusually contagious, according to recent reports, but might be no more dangerous than variants that have already run their course. Vaccines that are already available should help.

XBB has been listed among the variants that SNHD is looking for, but this week’s update provides no new information on the variant’s presence in Clark County. XBB.1.5 — Kraken — is not on the list of variants provided by SNHD.

Updates are unavailable this week on SNHD’s website for variant sequencing and wastewater surveillance. Although SNHD posted a report on variants dated Jan. 11, the data is the same as the previous week’s.

The dominant variants in Clark County in late December were BQ.1.1 (56.6% of cases sequenced) and BQ.1 (31.8% of cases sequenced). BF.7 is the next highest, but has fallen to just over 5% of cases.

The 14-day moving average (per 100,000 population) from week to week shows cases increasing by 4.3% in Clark County, and 1.6% statewide. Hospitalizations have dropped in Clark County and statewide. As of Monday, 236 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Clark County, and 29 people are hospitalized statewide.

“Nevada’s health care infrastructure is moving toward normalcy as the number of patients hospitalized with flu, and RSV is declining,” according to the Nevada Hospital Association (NHA). “COVID-219 hospitalizations remain flat but, currently, are not placing stress on the healthcare system.

NHA reports hospitals statewide are currently at 73% capacity, with occupancy rates in intensive care at 76%. Emergency room visits have decreased for the third straight week, with 12% of visits for COVID-19 symptoms.

For the second time in three weeks, an elevated number of deaths were reported, with 38 reported in Clark County and 45 statewide. Cumulative numbers for the pandemic show 9,239 deaths in Clark County and 11,823 statewide. Deaths can be reported weeks — or even months — after they actually occur, and it’s important to understand that the deaths probably did not occur over the course of the past week.

A fluctuation in case counts described last week as “historical data” was reset in this week’s reports from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. “After further review by the Office of Analytics, an error was identified so this week the change in data will more closely resemble the previous Clark County case trajectory, vs. the increase you noted last week,” according to spokeswoman Shannon Litz.

Last week marked one year since the peak of the omicron surge that saw case numbers spike in January of 2021, with a record of 6,110 COVID-19 cases reported in a single day in Clark County.

If you have symptoms, get tested and avoid spreading the virus to others. If you haven’t been vaccinated, go to the Southern Nevada Health District’s website for information on getting a shot, or updating your immunity by getting a booster.


  • New daily confirmed cases (14-day moving average, per 100,000 population) 194 — up from 186 the previous week. (4.3%)
  • Total cases: 615,214*
  • Deaths: 38 since last week (total: 9,239)
  • Hospitalizations: 236 (down 22 from the previous week)
    *-A difference in case counts exists between SNHD and the state. By SNHD’s current count, Clark County has had 595,385 cases as of this week.


  • New daily confirmed cases (14-day moving average, per 100,000 population) 245 — up from 241 the previous week. (1.6%)
  • Total cases: 811,812
  • Deaths: 45 since last week (total: 11,823)
  • Hospitalizations: 292 (down 18 from the previous week)

The county’s COVID-19 community level moved to “medium” on Thursday, Dec. 1, after staying at “low” since Aug. 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

See last week’s report here.

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