Nevada Governor unveils multi-phase Roadmap to Recovery from novel coronavirus pandemic

Associate Nevada Justice James Hardesty administers the oath of office to Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak on January 7, 2019 - image - The Sierra Nevada Ally

Today, during a live-streamed address, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak outlined a multi-phase plan to reopen businesses in the state, the Nevada United Roadmap to Recovery.

“First, the timeline for a strong recovery will be determined by the virus and the behaviors of Nevadans,” Governor Sisolak said. “The reopening of Nevada will happen the same way the State was closed down – in phases and following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and medical experts.”

According to the Roadmap to Recovery, Nevada is currently in the “Stay Home for Nevada” phase and will be until May 15. Some loosening of restrictions will take effect on May 1 to include opening all retail establishments for curbside service, but according to the Roadmap, the Stay Home for Nevada Phase is in effect until May 15 or until the state meets certain reopening criteria.

The criteria includes a consistent downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over a 14-day period, hospitals having the ability to maintain hospital capacity without employing Crisis Standards of Care, and expanded testing.

“Case contact tracing must also be on track, so that the public health workforce can detect, test, trace, and work to isolate those that have contracted the virus.

“Lastly, the health and protection of vulnerable populations must be ensured, with all efforts being done to minimize outbreaks in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes,” Governor Sisolak said.

The Stay Home for Nevada phase includes current strict social distancing measures and asking residents to remain at home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The goal is to create an environment where the spread is slowed down, allowing the state, local governments, and public health authorities to scale up health infrastructure and resources to handle larger outbreaks.

Because regions of the state are so varied, the governor said he has formed the Local Empowerment Advisory Panel (LEAP) and largely delegated to the state’s 17 counties the process of reopening. Between now and May 15, LEAP members in concert with the state Medical Advisory Team will develop recommendations for the governor’s directives during Phase 1.

Graphic from the United Nevada: Roadmap to Recovery

“It would be a disservice to the residents and businesses in our State to pretend like Esmerelda County is the same as Nye County or that Clark is the same as Elko,” said former Clark County commissioner Sisolak. “They’re not, and that’s okay – and it’s why our response efforts should reflect our regional differences, while still operating under our shared, statewide goal of keeping Nevadans safe and restarting our economy.”

LEAP Members:

  • Urban County Lead: Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Clark County Board of Commissioners
  • Rural County Lead: Chair J.J. Goicoechea, Eureka County Board of Commissioners
  • Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) representative: Dagny Stapleton
  • Representative of the Governor’s Office
  • Director Terry Reynolds, Nevada Department of Business and Industry
  • Director Michael Brown, Governor’s Office of Economic Development

Phase 1

Phase 1 is scheduled to begin on May 15 or when the state meets the reopening criteria. Essential businesses remain open with restrictions during Phase 1. Non-essential businesses may voluntarily reopen under strict limitations.

Bars and nightclubs will not reopen in Phase 1.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board will decide how and when gaming establishments will reopen.

According to the Roadmap, no gatherings of ten or more will be allowed, and the non-essential travel advisory remains in place.

The duration of Phase 1 is expected to be approximately 3 weeks.

Phase 2

According to the Roadmap to Recovery, by the end of Phase 1, the State of Nevada and local governments will have successfully expanded the public health infrastructure to allow for “widespread point-of-care testing, large-scale case contact tracing, and the ability to care for vulnerable populations.” Meeting these benchmarks, will allow for the State to enter Phase 2, which would enable many businesses and activities to come back online over time “under social distancing and occupancy controls.”

The National Coronavirus Response: A Roadmap to Reopening will guide the Nevada Roadmap.

“Phase 2 will consist of multiple stages to ensure there is adequate evaluation of trends in reporting data so health officials feel comfortable continuing to ease restrictions without increasing risk to the public. During this phase, which will likely last many weeks, it will be safer over time for Nevadans to socialize more normally, while taking significant precautions.”

During questions following his address, Governor Sisolak said the number of phases is yet to be determined and that the progress of the virus will be the deciding factor. According to the Roadmap, Phase 3 will continue some loosening of restrictions. Officials will have time to evaluate whether Nevada’s response to COVID-19 has stabilized businesses, public life, and the public healthcare system such that the state is ready to progress to the “new normal.”

Governor Sisolak emphasized that the recovery plan needed to be flexible, federally funded, State managed, and locally executed.  He asked for patience and cooperation in executing the plan to reopen the state.

“I know how most Nevadans are feeling right now,” Sisolak said. “The fog feels like it’s clearing away and many of you are probably asking why you’re sitting at home…why are schools closed? Why can’t you grab a beer with your buddies or go to a game with your family. I get it. Because we’ve done a good job, the threat of COVID-19 feels distant and abstract – to many, it might not feel as scary anymore.

“But I have the unfortunate responsibility to remind all of us that the threat remains real. That just a month ago models were predicting high peaks of hospitalizations, an overloading of our healthcare system, and death tolls potentially in the tens of thousands. We can’t forget that.  Afterall, there is still no vaccine for COVID-19 at this time.”