Gov. Sisolak: Schools to stay closed through rest of 2019-2020 year
Gov. Steve Sisolak fired back Tuesday at those wanting him to begin reopening Nevada’s economy, making it abundantly clear it won’t happen quickly.
He said it’s good news that the COVID-19 infection rate appeared to be “plateauing.”
“The lower numbers of the infected people and deaths than previously predicted should not be seen that our actions were not necessary,” he said, while not mentioning the Republican party or Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman who have called for reducing restrictions.
The Democratic governor and state experts said the Silver State would take a gradual approach to easing business closures and stay-at-home rules, without giving any expected date for how soon that might occur. Sisolak also said it was too soon to say whether schools would remain closed for the start of the new school year in the fall.
The Quad-County Emergency Operations Center said Tuesday night that Carson City, Lyon, Douglas and Storey counties have reported 63 cases of COVID-19.
Carson City Health and Human Services who services the area said 39 cases remain active with three people hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Twenty four people have recovered.
Carson City has had 28 cases with 13 recoveries; Douglas has 16 total cases with six recoveries; Lyon has 19 cases with five recoveries. Storey has yet to report a case.
Statewide 163 people have died related to the coronavirus. More than 3,830 people have tested positive.
He said that those lower than predicted coronavirus numbers are, instead, “a strong indication they were both necessary and effective.”
“Social distancing measures are extremely effective,” he said but that relaxing them too quickly would open Nevada to a tidal wave of new infections.
Sisolak also announced that he has made, “the difficult decision” that public school buildings will not reopen this year. Nevada’s students will finish the school year with distance learning procedures.
Sisolak said the number of positive cases are falling because Nevadans are social distancing for the most part, avoiding crowds, reducing unnecessary travel, washing hands frequently and wearing masks.
How fast Nevada can begin opening things back up depends not only on the continued decreases in infections, hospitalizations and ICU admissions but on the type of business involved.
To begin the process, Sisolak said, state experts need two weeks of steady improvement in those factors.
People considered higher risk for complications, like those with underlying health conditions or older adults, would still need to shelter in place. Other people would need to avoid socializing in groups of more than 10 to maintain social distance and a travel advisory encouraging people to minimize nonessential travel would remain.
People would still be asked to use face coverings in public, and bars would remain closed. Sisolak said members of his team are still working to determine if restaurants, churches and gyms would be able to open and whether sporting events and elective surgeries can take place again.
Sisolak said even if his team decides there’s a way for places like restaurants and gyms to reopen while maintaining social distancing, those business owners might decide it’s not worth it financially to operate with a fraction of their normal customers.
Asked specifically about restaurants, he said, “I don’t think you can re-open restaurants.”
Earlier in the press conference, he made it clear bars won’t get the green light anytime soon either.
He said the process will be “in baby steps,” and that, “if we have an uptick in infections, hospitalizations or ICU hospitalizations, we’ll have to tighten it back up.”
To guard against a major spike in nursing home and assisted living infections, he said the Nevada National guard will be conducting inspections to ensure those facilities are clean, adequately staffed and operating safely.
Nevada has not joined a coalition of western governors in Washington, Oregon and California who have decided to coordinate their plans for a gradual reopening. The governor on Tuesday did not answer questions about why and whether he would seek to join, instead saying that he’s communicating with the other governors and approves of their plans.