In the last two weeks, COVID-19 infections have rebounded across Nevada. Yet despite this uptick in infections, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) announced that the official event capacity cap will rise from 50 to 250 beginning this Thursday. In addition, Sisolak laid out the framework for future events with fans attending at major venues like Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena.
Here we go again: A surprise Tuesday COVID-19 stat check
Since yesterday, Nevada’s COVID-19 stats haven’t changed too much. Our statewide death count has ticked a little higher to 1,593, as the state has recorded another eight COVID-19 related deaths today. According to the official Nevada Health Response dashboard and The Nevada Independent’s COVID-19 tracker, the state’s cumulative test positivity rate still stands at 11.5%, and the seven day average still hovers above 12%.
According to Covid Act Now, the statewide infection rate has jumped even higher to 1.12, meaning that every 100 COVID-19 infections will result in another 112 new infections. Washoe County’s infection rate (1.14) remains the highest, but Clark County’s (1.12) is almost as high today. Nye (1.05) and Elko (0.85) Counties’ respective infection rates have also crept up further, while Douglas County (0.94) is holding steady and Carson City’s infection rate (0.66) continues to drop.
In better news, overall (confirmed and suspected combined) COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low at 446. And Covid Act Now projects that Nevada hospitals have enough capacity to handle additional hospitalizations, as they estimate that new COVID-19 hospitalizations will only need 33% of available beds.
“You look at these other states, and they have nothing. I don’t want to open everything up, only to close it again.”
– Governor Steve Sisolak
LIVE: Gov. Sisolak to provide updates on Nevada’s COVID-19 response and adjustments to current capacity limits on gatherings
Posted by 8 News Now on Tuesday, September 29, 2020
When asked at his press conference this afternoon about the recent uptick in infections, Sisolak simply said, “We’ve noticed an undue uptick in test positivity. We reserve the right to change these rules.” However Sisolak put a positive spin on Nevada’s COVID-19 stats, stressing that, “The impact of mitigation measures is working. You are doing a great job.”
Sisolak then contrasted his more gradual approach of reopening Nevada’s business and public spaces with the “roller coaster” of business reopenings followed by massive COVID-19 resurgences and occasional re-closings that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R), Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R), and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (R) have allowed in their respective states.
Though Sisolak didn’t name any of these states or Governors, it wasn’t hard to figure out who and where Sisolak was talking about when he declared, “You deserve better than what they are giving. You deserve Nevada, and we are here to provide that gold standard.” Later, Sisolak added, “You look at these other states, and they have nothing. I don’t want to open everything up, only to close it again.”
So what’s changing this Thursday?
While Sisolak thus far has been more cautious in his reopening schedule here than his Sun Belt Republican counterparts, Nevada has also come under scrutiny for all the reopening we’ve experienced since the casinos began to reopen on June 4. Yet despite investigations by ProPublica and The Daily Beast that point to renewed Las Vegas Strip tourism fueling further spread of COVID-19 in Nevada and throughout the U.S., Sisolak insisted that Nevada can handle more visitors and larger events.
While house parties and other residential gatherings will remain capped at 10 if indoors and 25 if outdoors, the 50 person cap on events at larger commercial venues rises to 250 people beginning at 12:01 AM this Thursday. (And this 250 figure only counts attendees, not staff.) When asked about Cirque du Soleil performances, smaller concerts, and other live entertainment events, Sisolak confirmed that organizers of such events will be able to submit plans to resume live performances for state approval beginning this Thursday. And starting this week, religious organizations can resume in-person services so long as they cap attendance at 250 and adhere to state rules on face coverings and social distancing.
Then, Sisolak dropped the big news that even larger events, such as Las Vegas Raider games, Las Vegas Golden Knights games, and bigger concerts, may soon have audiences in attendance again. Like those hoping to resume performances at smaller spaces, organizers will have to submit their plans for state approval. But if approved, they may be allowed to bring in more people, so long as everyone adheres to face covering and social distancing rules, and provided that people are separated into “pods” no larger than 250.
“Nevada is not only open for business, but we’re also planning for the long term.”
– Governor Steve Sisolak
Why 250, and why now? As Sisolak put it, “This is an important step towards revitalizing our hospitality industry.” And later, he added, “250 is a good number. It’s not too big. It’s not too small.”
During today’s press conference, Sisolak stressed, “Nevada is not only open for business, but we’re also planning for the long term.” And he later added, “Nevada has made so much progress in the fight against COVID-19. Nevada must double down in our efforts to protect our health and our economy at the same time.”
But starting this Thursday, we may face our biggest test yet with more people crowding into more spaces. In the weeks ahead, we’ll see whether Sisolak can keep his promise of protecting Nevadans’ health while also bringing more people back to our ballrooms, convention halls, and stadiums.
If you’re in need of medical treatment, contact your primary health care provider first. If you fear you can’t afford treatment from a hospital or doctor’s office, check with the Southern Nevada Health District, Washoe County Health District, Carson City Health and Human Services, or the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services for resources in your area. For additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square.