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Public Health

As COVID-19 Surges In Nevada, Sisolak Imposes New Restrictions

An older man looks beyond the camera. He’s touching the bottom of his blue surgical mask. He is wearing a silver wedding ring. There is a blue curtain behind him.
David Calvert
Nevada Independent
Governor Steve Sisolak during a press conference on July 9, 2020 in the former Assembly chambers inside the Capitol in Carson City.

Nearly a quarter of all COVID-19 cases in Nevada were identified just this month alone. During a press conference Sunday, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced he’s imposing tighter restrictions for the next three weeks, calling it a “pause” — not a full shutdown.

Instead of closing down the economy, Sisolak is clamping down. For one, face coverings are going to be required when interacting with anyone outside of your household.

One of the more notable changes is that most businesses will be required to operate at 25% capacity, including gaming establishments, indoor and outdoor dining, bars and gyms.

This raises concerns that the reduced capacity could put a financial strain on small business owners.

But some businesses, like grocery and retail stores, indoor malls, along with nail and hair salons, can continue operating at 50% capacity.

“There aren’t any decisions that don't have negative consequences,” Sisolak said, “Weighing the loss of jobs and businesses versus the loss of health and lives is painful without a perfect solution. While prioritizing the health and safety of Nevadans, I am also balancing the significant ramifications that further restrictions will have on our suffering economy.”

The governor is also lowering the size of public gatherings, capping it at 50 people. Private gatherings must abide to an even smaller group, with 10 people or less, with no more than two households present.

The gathering limitations do not apply to schools. Sisolak said it’s crucial for schools to remain open for the well-being of students, but to also keep the economy afloat. For now, it’s up to the school districts to decide if they want to remain open.

“Our education system and our economy are not mutually exclusive. They are tied together. As long as school buildings are closed, our economy cannot be fully open. Mom and dad can’t go to work if they have children learning from home who need supervision,” Sisolak said.

Clark County School District, the largest in the state, has been remote since March. And the Washoe school board is meeting Tuesday to consider whether to go full remote as COVID-19 cases continue to break records in the county.

Statewide, youth and adult sports tournaments will be put on hold during the three-week pause.

Sisolak said the latest round of restrictions are intended to safeguard hospital capacity.

“If hospital beds continue filling at this rate and staffing shortages continue to increase as they are now, that means all Nevadans will have limited access to the care they may need. It’s not just for COVID: if you get in a car accident, or have a heart attack, or break a wrist, you won’t be able to access care if our hospitals are full and there isn’t enough staff,” Sisolak said.

These new guidelines will last for three weeks starting on Tuesday at 12:01 a.m. Sisolak acknowledged that it will be difficult to enforce all of the restrictions, especially the ones pertaining to private gatherings.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

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