Nevada Governor announces sweeping closures to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak giving his inauguration speech on January 7, 2019 - image - Brian Bahouth.

On Monday, Reno became the first municipality in the state to order the closure of all restaurants, bars, nightclubs and nonessential businesses. In a press conference this evening from the Grant Sawyer State Office Building in Las Vegas, Nevada, Governor Steve Sisolak ordered the temporary closure of casinos, restaurants, retail outlets, malls and all nonessential businesses for 30 days, effective at noon tomorrow.

“I’ve taken what I believe were the necessary steps to try to mitigate this pandemic and keep our community safe, including closing our K through 12 schools and recommending that we follow social distancing guidelines,” the Governor said. “Today, it is clear additional steps must be taken immediately in order to slow the spread of this deadly virus in our state. We have all closely monitored the World Health Organization and CDC guidelines and research. The World Health Organization has stated that the number of secondary infections generated from one infected individual is between 2 and 2.5 for COVID-19. That’s higher than the rate of reproduction for the flu. And according to experts at Imperial College in the United Kingdom, the doubling rate of this virus globally is roughly 4 to 5 days. That spread is truly alarming.

“Our hospitals are prepared right now to help those most critically affected by this virus, and in fact, 80 percent of those who are infected have only mild or no symptoms. But in order for those who will need critical care to be able to receive it, the rest of us need to do our part to stay healthy, and to keep our facilities available for those patients that need it. It is our responsibility, our duty to each other and to the most vulnerable Nevadans to each take our role in stopping the spread seriously and stay home for Nevada.”

Hear audio of the Governor’s entire speech.

In justifying the momentous closures, Governor Sisolak said that medical professionals have made it clear that there is no treatment and that while a vaccine is being developed, “we don’t have time to waste.”

The Governor said the recommended actions were proven methods to stem the spread of viruses in the fastest way possible.

“All Nevadans must ensure that six feet of social distancing per person for non-family members is maintained. Only essential services should remain open, such as fire, police, transit and health care services. In addition to businesses that provide food, shelter, social services for disadvantaged populations.

“Non-essential services such as beauty shops, barber shops, nail tanning-waxing salons should close until further notice. Only essential businesses should remain open, such as pharmacies, grocery stores, drug and convenience stores, banks and financial institutions, hardware stores and gas stations.

“All gatherings should be postponed or canceled. This is not the time for sleep overs, playdates concerts, theater outings or athletic events. Although you might not be experiencing symptoms at this time, you may be contagious. Do not risk your health or the health of others. Many of you will not be in your office or at work over the next few weeks. This is not a vacation, and it’s not a time to catch up with friends. It’s definitely not the time to go to the movies. Every social contact increases your risk of exposure. The bigger the group, the higher the risk. This means that you should stay away from auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large conference rooms, meeting halls, and cafeterias.”

While the Governor encouraged people to support restaurants through curb-side or dirveup service. He was emphatic at several points during the address.

“I’m telling non-essential businesses you have two choices. Find a way to service your customers through delivery drive through quickly curbside pickup or front door service, or close your doors. These COVID-19 risk mitigation measures will be fully effective as of noon tomorrow.”

In an email to Reno City Council members, the Governor gave detail to the types of businesses that would be allowed to stay open.

All casinos, hotels, motels will be given time to exit their guests; they will then close for 30 days effective tomorrow.

All gaming machines in bars, restaurants, convenience stores, casinos, etc. must be emptied and shut down – deadline is 24 hours.

The airport, banks, postal service, hospitals, pharmacies, and urgent care facilities will remain open with the caveat that all employees maintain the appropriate social distancing and recommended hygiene practices.

Professional offices, including lawyers, doctors, accountants and realtors, etc. may remain open provided that staff desks are arranged to ensure maximum safety precautions and flexibility in staffing hours and sick leave is provided upon request. No employee who wishes to remain home should be required to be at work.

All restaurants must close; curbside delivery, take-out, and home delivery is encouraged. The Governor recommended that all displaced bartenders and food servers be utilized for drive-through service, if the business has it available, or to do home deliveries.

All retail malls and stores will be closed for 30 days.

The Chambers of Commerce throughout Nevada may absolutely remain open in order to disseminate information and assist members with resources.

Interesting to note that daycare facilities will remain open. Governor Sisolak encouraged religious institutions to hold services online.

Sisolak said he’s been in communication with the state’s congressional delegation and the passage of the the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will help speed test kits and other needed support to the state.

“Our (congressional) delegation has helped amplify our calls for ensuring appropriate testing for Nevadans and trying to ensure that our health agencies have access to the testing, protective supplies and lifesaving equipment that are necessary to protect both patients and our doctors and nurses.

“I also appreciate that the Families First Act will be providing expanded emergency paid leave, two weeks of paid sick leave, up to three months of paid family and medical leave, and funding for nutrition assistance programs and school meals. We know that more will need to be done when the corona virus pandemic has passed to get our economy back on its feet and people traveling again.”

Governor Sisolak said he is in support of cash payments to citizens.

“I hope Congress will support direct cash payments to people of all walks of life so that families can keep putting food on the table, paying their rent and keeping their lives together. We have too many people living paycheck to paycheck as it is. And we know that the pandemic will make the odds longer for many.

“To calm any fears or rumors to come many fears are rumors. I also wanted to note that the Nevada National Guard has not been activated. However, they are always standing at the ready to assist with community support, if and when they’re called upon.”

There were a few members of the media in attendance. When asked to parse fine points in what will be closed or open, the Governor was brusque.

“I don’t know if I can make this any clearer, that people who are looking for a loophole here, this is affecting the lives of our citizens. People are dying. You know, every day that is delayed here, I’m losing a dozen people on the back end. They’re gonna die as a result of this. Kevin Durant, one of the most fit people in the world tested positive today. It’s incumbent upon the citizens of this state to take this seriously. Next question.”

When asked about the economic impacts of the closures and how they might be mitigated, and the Governor was terse.

“I’m not here to talk about money and bailouts today. I’m here to talk about the health and well-being of the people of the state of Nevada our folks that live here are folks that work here? That’s my primary concern.”

To close the address, Governor Sisolak acknowledged the stress the closures impose on Nevadans but implored residents to heed his advice.

“I know this directive will cause many of our family and friends to distress but I ask you, what are you willing to do to save your own life and the lives of those you love? We absolutely must take this step for every Nevadans’ health and safety. Please, please take this seriously. Lives are at stake. And each day that passes, this pandemic is growing. Please stay home for Nevada.”