Churchill County commissioners said Friday at a special
emergency meeting the county has met goals established in phase one as outlined
by Gov. Steve Sisolak, but according to his direction, every county — including
the rurals — must start together to loosen up restrictions placed on Nevada’s businesses.
County Manager Jim Barbee said the governor presented his framework on April 21 and then re-emphasized his plan to re-open the state Thursday night. Sisolak rolled out his Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery plan, which is designed to build a path forward and safely restart Nevada’s economy.
In addition to the issuance of the plan, Sisolak extended his Stay at Home Directive to May 15 while Nevada works to meet the criteria previously laid out by the state.
Criteria for the plan includes the following: a consistent downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and hospitalization over a 14-day period, hospitals having the ability to maintain hospital capacity without employing Crisis Standards of Care, and expanded testing; case contract tracing must also be on track, so that the public health workforce can detect, test, trace, and work to isolate those that have contracted the virus; and the health and protection of vulnerable populations must be ensured, with all efforts being done to minimize outbreaks in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes.
Sisolak has directed the opening of golf courses and venues for tennis and pickleball and making adjustments for curbside services for merchants other than food services and cannabis dispensaries. Churches will be allowed to have drive-in services, as long as worshippers stay in a car and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet.
The county, which owns the golf course but leases it out,
gave permission for the facility to open Saturday with certain conditions,
which are posted at the club house.
Sisolak said businesses that are deemed essential may still
be open and must still comply with strict social distancing standards and other
safety measures to keep workers and clients safe.
Barbee walked through the criteria for re-opening the county businesses, which was created by both the city of Fallon and Churchill County. Barbee said the city and commission consider every business in Churchill County as essential. Commissioners unanimously approved the plan to send to the governor’s office.
Since mid-April, Barbee said no one has been hospitalized in
Churchill County for coronavirus, and since April 16, the county hasn't had a
positive test result in 15 days as of Friday. Furthermore, Banner Churchill Community
Hospital’s bed capacity has increased with 37 ICU (intensive care unit) beds.
Beginning Thursday, Barbee said Churchill County will begin
a county-wide surveillance and symptomatic testing plan, and 1% of the
population will be divided equally from each of the three commission districts
for random testing. Barbee said this will result in 252 weekly tests.
According to the county’s framework, Barbee said those who
test positive will go into quarantine to protect the health of the area’s residents
and to maintain the vitality of the county’s economy.
The county is following both the governor’s Nevada framework
and President Donald Trump’s phase 1 plan to protect vulnerable residents based
on the Centers for Disease Control criteria: people 65 years of age and older;
people who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility; people with
chronic lung disease of moderate to severe asthma; people who have serious
heart conditions; people who are immunocompromised; people with diabetes;
people with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis; and those who have
Barbee said the city, county and Banner Churchill have also
inventoried the personal protection equipment (PPE) that includes 33,577 masks,
1,047 bottles of hand sanitizer bottles, 32,940 gloves and 4,909 procedure
Barbee said the local plan for the first phase will continue
to use social distance at work, creative scheduling for employees and
telecommunication. He said groups would be kept to a maximum of 10 people, and
individuals would be encouraged to wear masks.
“That’s pretty much what we’re doing now,” he said.
Sisolak created a set of guidelines for the counties to
complete, and Barbee said he sent Churchill County’s mitigation plan to the
governor’s office Friday afternoon. If the counties meet the criteria set forth
by the governor, Barbee said the counties may be able to loosen up the requirements.
“We have to be mindful of safety,” said chairman Pete Olsen.
“We’re all frustrated, and we all want to get going.”
Commissioners were asked about the requirements for beauty
salons, barber shops and casinos, but Barbee said, according to the governor’s
comments Thursday night, the directions will come from the appropriate state
boards as to their opening day.
Scharmann said local businesses will need to self-police to
ensure the county can move forward into the next phase.
“Everyone needs to step up and play by the rules,” Barbee added.
Scharmann said businesses must do better than Walmart,
which, he said, is not managing social distance or encouraging the wearing of
“Some businesses like Big R are doing a pretty good job,”
Olsen also reiterated the county will advance to the next
phase if people and businesses keep policing themselves.
One man during public comments was hesitant to agree. He said some businesses in the area don’t encourage the wearing of masks, customers were coughing and no distance was maintained.
“I have concerns for that,” he said if people and businesses
are asked to police themselves.