Nevada has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases and a steady increase in hospitalizations for the virus since the state entered phase two of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s reopening plan. In an effort to curb the spread, the governor signed a directive Wednesday that requires people to wear masks while in public, effective Friday. KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck covered the governor’s press conference this week for our media partner This Is Reno, and has the details.
Face coverings will be required for Nevada residents and visitors when indoors in a public space, and while outside, when maintaining six-feet of social distancing with people outside of one’s household is not possible. People are also required to wear a mask when using public transportation and rideshare services. Here’s what Governor Steve Sisolak had to say during last night’s press conference:
"I don't know why or when protecting our health and our neighbors’ lives became a political, partisan, or even philosophical decision. For me, it's none of those. It's a medical necessity, a human obligation, and it's good for business,” Sisolak said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings. Sisolak also said this, stating that the public does not need to wear N95 masks, but can craft one of their own. The governor said wearing face coverings is crucial for businesses to remain open.
Employees were already required to wear face coverings, and must still do so. If businesses don’t comply, they will face violations. For the public, Sisolak said he doesn’t want to have law enforcement writing fines for people who refuse to wear masks.
“I want to be clear. This is a mandate. So enforcement language is necessary. However, ideally, there won't be any criminal civil sanctions for individuals. The last thing I want is for monetary fines or criminal penalties to be imposed on Nevadans, which is why I strongly encourage everyone to follow this directive," Sisolak said.
There are some exceptions. Children under the age of two should avoid wearing masks. Kids from two to nine are highly encouraged to wear face coverings, and children over the age of 10 are required. Individuals with disabilities or medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a face covering don’t have to as well.
Additionally, masks are not required for those experiencing homelessness or are incarcerated, and they’re not required when someone is eating at a restaurant or doing an outdoor activity like biking or running.
This story was produced in partnership with This Is Reno.