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Politics and Policy

Sisolak Moving Away From Phases, Will Release New COVID-19 Response Plan Next Week

Nevada's governor speaks into a microphone during a press conference.
Nevada State Press Conference Via YouTube
Governor Steve Sisolak gives Nevadans updates regarding the states reopening plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During Monday's press conference, Governor Steve Sisolak lifted bar restrictions for three Nevada counties but said he's shifting from educating Nevadans about COVID-19 protocols to enforcing them.

Sisolak started the press conference by referencing what he described as the necessary actions he's taken over the past five months to help stop the spread of COVID-19. He also addressed the state's economic blow that's left hundreds of thousands of Nevadans without a job. 

“Protecting lives and livelihoods is like dancing on the head of a pin and requires daily monitoring, adjustments and enforcement,” Sisolak said.

This month, the state saw an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. On a brighter note, the governor says mask-wearing, increased testing and compliance with regulations are the reasons behind new positive data, including a slow and gradual flattening of cases and hospitalizations.

“Nevada's R Effective (Re) dipped under 1.0, just slightly, to a number of .98 which is a good sign,” Sisolak said. “This measures the average number of people who become infected by a person who has COVID-19. When the R Effective is under 1 it means the virus isn't spreading as much. On June 28, just a month ago our R Effective level was 1.63 and that was one of the highest in the nation.”

While this data looks to be positive, the governor says there is still a high prevalence of COVID-19 in the state and it is unknown if this is a trend that will continue.

Three Nevada Counties including Humboldt, Lander and Lyon Counties may now open their bars, pubs and taverns. The decision comes after the three counties moved out of the at-risk zone under the state's Elevated Risk Transmission criteria created by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

The criteria look at the average number of tests conducted per day, case rates and case positivity rates. Clark, Elko, Nye and Washoe counties will remain under previous bar and tavern restrictions. This directive will last for the next week while officials work to finalize a new long term mitigation plan for the state, which would mean no more jumping between phases. 

“In an effort to create more predictability as a state, we want to move away from phases. Like I've mentioned, we've learned a lot about this virus the last five months and while phases made sense at the time, we have to be flexible and responsive to what we are seeing now,” Sisolak said.

The new plan will focus heavily on the strict enforcement of health regulations. Businesses who serve unmasked residents could face their property being shut down. The governor plans to release this plan next Monday.

The governor did not speak on the reopening of schools this fall and said he's leaving it up to each county. He did mention that the second special session could start as soon as Thursday.

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