Nevada nowhere close to easing virus restrictions, governor says |

Nevada nowhere close to easing virus restrictions, governor says

By Michelle L. Price Associated Press
People wearing masks pause while riding bicycles along the Las Vegas Strip devoid of the usual crowds as casinos and other business are shuttered due to the coronavirus outbreak, Tuesday, April 14, 2020, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/John Locher

LAS VEGAS — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the state is nowhere near ready to begin reopening parts of its shuttered economy due to the coronavirus.

The Democratic governor said in a Tuesday night news conference that he doesn’t have specific benchmarks he’d like to see before considering easing closures. He said he will rely on doctors who have been advising him about the pandemic while considering factors such as rates of infection and deaths, the impacts on hospitals and input from business.

But he said he didn’t want to give anyone the idea that discussions about easing restrictions and reopening are happening anytime soon.

“This is not going to be a political decision for as to when to open,” he said. “We’re going to take it slow and steady and listen to the doctors.”

Some neighboring states have announced they formed coalitions to work together on how to emerge, including California, Oregon and Washington.

Sisolak did not answer a question about whether he was asked to join the coalition of Western states but said he shares their goals and has communicated several times with California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

With Nevada’s powerhouse casino industry shuttered, along with all other businesses deemed nonessential, Sisolak said the state has seen 300,000 people file for unemployment in the last month, or about 10,000 people a day.

Health officials reported Tuesday that almost 3,100 people have tested positive for COVID-19 statewide, and 130 have died.

Most people with the virus experience mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can face severe illness including pneumonia and death.

In other developments:

• Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada was closed to visitors. The park covers more than 120,500 square miles and is known for its ancient bristlecone pine grove and Lehman caves. Near Las Vegas, the vast federal Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area are closed, along with some state parks.

• A Nevada commission has recommended that state officials decide if nonviolent felons and elderly inmates should be freed from Nevada prisons to prevent the spread of the coronavirus behind bars. The proposal now goes to the state Pardons Board. Sisolak said Tuesday night he has many concerns he wants answered about releasing inmates, including where they might stay, how they could find work and whether they could get medical care.