Governor: Must move deliberately in reopening Nevada

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Gov. Steve Sisolak gets emotional during a Phase 1 reopening update news conference, Friday, May 15, 2020.

Published Fri, May 15, 2020 (3:30 p.m.)

Updated Fri, May 15, 2020 (4:34 p.m.)

Gov. Steve Sisolak said he doesn’t want to get ahead of himself as he considers the next steps in reopening Nevada from the coronavirus shutdown.

Nevada is just six days into an initial 14-day phase of reopening businesses that have been shuttered for nearly two months.

On Saturday, some nonessential businesses — dine-in restaurants, retail stores and hair salons — were allowed to start reopening under strict social distancing guidelines.

“We will be evaluating when it is safe to move into the second phase,” Sisolak said. “Our goal is to continue reopening Nevada in a safe manner. What we do now will determine what we can do next.”

Sisolak ordered casinos and other nonessential businesses closed in mid-March to help contain the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 6,6000 people and claimed 339 lives in Nevada. Casinos, nightclubs and bars still have not received the green light to resume operations.

State officials are monitoring data — from testing capacity and results to hospital-bed usage — on a daily basis to help determine if it is safe to continue easing restrictions, Sisolak said. But officials want to see a full two weeks of results to gauge the impact of the first-phase reopenings.

That means the Las Vegas Strip will likely remain closed for the three-day Memorial Day holiday, one of the most lucrative weekends of the year.

Sisolak noted that Nevada has experienced a 20-day decline in positive test results, from a peak of more than 12% to 9% today.

Depending on how the data trends, next steps could include extending Phase 1, starting Phase 2 with additional openings or rolling back some of the initial reopenings, he said.

“It is extremely important that we get in front of the virus and we do what we can to stop it,” Sisolak said.

Testing is also being ramped up, including at a drive-thru site at the Orleans, which now has the capacity to screen 1,200 people a day, Sisolak said.

Statewide, nearly 2,500 people a day are being tested, Sisolak said. As of today, health officials had conducted 85,791 tests on 72,146 people.

Sisolak lauded businesses for taking prescribed social distancing measures during last weekend’s opening, noting a majority were in compliance. He didn’t mention how many were not cooperating or how they were failing to adhere to guidelines.

“We know the virus is not gone. We have made progress, but the virus is still here,” Sisolak said. “We must stay the course and remain vigilant"

Las Vegas Sun reporter John Sadler contributed to this report.

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