Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak updates the state's COVID-19 response efforts and lifting of restrictions on youth and adult recreation sports during a news conference at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020.
LAS VEGAS — Health officials in Nevada's two largest counties said they have been shut out of the governor's decisions regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials from the Southern Nevada Health District and Washoe County Health District sent a joint letter with complaints to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
The health officials said not including them in the state's policy discussions or development of COVID-19 directives has complicated local responses to the pandemic.
Local authorities have been forced to shift their plans and resources in response to the governor's changes with insufficient or no notice, the letter said.
"Since we are not consulted and engaged, we receive little or no advance notice of what these policy changes may be, and we are forced to react after decisions have been made and announcements are occurring," it said.
The letter also said Sisolak appeared to be consulting with outside groups rather than local health officials about his directives.
The correspondence was signed by Southern Nevada Health District Chief Health Officer Fermin Leguen and Board of Health Chairman Scott Black, along with Washoe County's Health Officer Kevin Dick and Board of Health Chairman John Novak.
Sisolak spokeswoman Meghin Delaney said in a statement the governor's office is disappointed that issues highlighted in the letter were not raised during regular communication between local and state officials, including members of state agencies and the Nevada COVID-19 response team.
Sisolak's Chief of Staff Michelle White plans to issue a written response and host a meeting to discuss issues raised in the letter, Delaney said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.