Jim Hartman: Nevada near last to unmask

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman
Courtesy Photo

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF
Gov. Steve Sisolak abruptly dropped Nevada’s mask mandate Feb. 10 by issuing Emergency Directive 052 that masks would not be required in public places “effective immediately.”
In doing so, Sisolak was way behind the national curve in dumping mask edicts. Nevada was among the mask mandate holdouts, with just three states – Hawaii, New Mexico and Washington – still forcing residents to mask up at public indoor settings.
Even California announced it would end its indoor masking requirement earlier than Nevada. That’s notable because California is the state most identified with an addiction to heavy-handed government.
Last July 27, Sisolak issued a directive that reimposed an onerous indoor public place mask mandate following a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully-vaccinated people should wear masks in indoor settings.
The governor’s directive also mandated masks for all teachers, staff and students in Nevada’s 17 school districts.
As a result of parental backlash and pressure from school superintendents, Sisolak backed off his all-student mask mandate. He issued another directive on Aug. 4 giving 15 rural school districts, those outside Clark and Washoe, the flexibility to determine their own student masking rules.
Mask mandates for children in schools have come under increasing scrutiny given the virus represents little danger to young people. The case against masking children in class has been convincingly made by many with serious credentials for many months, but resisted by powerful teachers’ unions.
Six months later there’s little evidence Sisolak’s July directive has led to fewer COVID infections. Nor do results in the eight other “deep-blue” states imposing an indoor mask mandate demonstrate any different outcome.
The great majority of governors – Democrats and Republicans – declined to impose a similar requirement. Sisolak’s ongoing mask order was extreme and outside the mainstream.
Sisolak said his new Directive 052 is “based on science” and reflects “the precipitous drop in positive cases, the considerable drop in hospitalizations.” However, the CDC “guidance” is unchanged and continues to be to wear a mask indoors in public.
Republicans characterized Sisolak’s decision as politically expedient.
“The science changes when it’s politically convenient, “ Assembly GOP Leader Robin Titus, a physician, said in a statement.
“The science hasn’t changed, only the political science has,” she added.
From the beginning, Sisolak’s response to COVID has been strongly authoritarian in a state with a long tradition of “live and let live” libertarianism. His Draconian lockdown orders in March 2020 were devastating to Nevada’s economy.
By April 2020, Nevada set the record for the highest unemployment rate ever recorded, 30.5%, which sent the state’s unemployment system into meltdown.
During 2021, Nevada’s monthly unemployment rate was regularly the highest in the nation. While the state’s unemployment declined to 6.4% in the December U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, that’s still the second-highest unemployment rate in the U.S. after neighboring California.
Sisolak’s lockdowns also destroyed many “non-essential” small businesses, closing them permanently. His arbitrary capacity orders wildly fluctuated from 50% to 25%, then back to 50%, making it difficult for businesses to plan and comply.
Joey Gilbert, a GOP far-right firebrand candidate for governor, labeled Sisolak “a tyrant and a bully” for his COVID directives.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman called Sisolak “a dictator.”
“He’s been a dictator with whom we have complied every step of the way,” Goodman, formerly a Democrat and now an independent, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “We’ve had no choice.”
A comprehensive “State Pandemic Scorecard” issued by Politico on December 15 placed Nevada tied for 48th – with Mississippi – in ranking the state’s overall COVID response. Only Wyoming ranked lower than Nevada in handling COVID issues, according to the report.
For Sisolak, his COVID response has become a serious liability. It’s a delusion for Democrats to believe the movement against mandates is driven only by right-wing crazies.
Email Jim Hartman at lawdocman1@aol.com.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment