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Governor Steve Sisolak Announces New Order for Non-essential Businesses to Close As Nevada Contends with COVID-19 Pandemic

During a Facebook Live session, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) announced the next step for mitigation and containment of the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. At one point, Sisolak lamented, “This is our unfortunate reality, Nevada.”

Then, Sisolak announced this next step: “I am using my authority under the emergency directive to order all non-essential businesses to close.” The order comes into effect midnight tonight.

“The flu mortality rate is 0.1%. The COVID-19 mortality rate is much higher. The only way we get a handle on this is if we stay home for Nevada.” 
– Governor Steve Sisolak
Photo by Andrew Davey

The day after Governor Steve Sisolak ordered all Nevada casinos shut down and advised all other businesses deemed “non-essential” to follow suit, a handful of local elected officials directly contradicted the Governor. In White Pine County, Sheriff Scott Henriod openly encouraged residents and businesses to defy Sisolak’s plea to “Stay Home for Nevada”. And in Clark County, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman compared COVID-19 to the seasonal flu in downplaying the danger of the novel coronavirus and asking Sisolak to shorten his 30 day directive to 14 days.

While Sisolak didn’t directly respond to Goodman or Henriod, he did rebut Goodman’s false minimization of COVID-19. On that, Sisolak noted, “The flu mortality rate is 0.1%. The COVID-19 mortality rate is much higher. The only way we get a handle on this is if we stay home for Nevada.”

3/20 Governor’s COVID-19 Update

Posted by Governor Steve Sisolak on Friday, March 20, 2020

Sisolak also announced that as of today, Nevada has 109 people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. And contrary to President Donald Trump’s false claim earlier today of testing always being available for everyone, Sisolak echoed local health officials in noting that the state still doesn’t have enough tests available (yet?).

On Trump’s recent testing claims, Sisolak declared, “Despite countless calls and around-the-clock work to push for, and even beg, the federal government for additional test kits and supplies, the [state] received a notice yesterday that all of Nevada’s requests to the federal government regarding drive-thru swab testing pods, swab test kits, and testing reagent kits are on an indefinite backlog without any estimate of a timeline for delivery.”

“Previously, I asked non-essential businesses to close their doors to the public. I am no longer asking them to do that. I am directing all non-essential businesses to close.” 
– Governor Steve Sisolak
Photo by Andrew Davey

Between Donald Trump’s refusal thus far to provide sufficient resources to state authorities and the businesses and local agencies that are contradicting Sisolak’s orders and directives, Sisolak felt the urge to clarify the consequences of insufficient action. As Sisolak described it, “Statewide, we have fewer than 5,000 acute care beds. Of those 5,000 beds, fewer than 700 are intensive care unit beds that are better equipped to handle the severe cases of COVID-19. Right now, more than 80 percent of all those beds are occupied with a mix of COVID-19 and other patients. That means, we have only 20 percent of beds available. We have similar limits when it comes to ventilators.”

Sisolak continued, “Let me be clear, if we do not do everything we can to slow this virus, hospital beds will soon be completely filled with COVID-19 patients. There will be no beds to set broken bones, treat heart attacks or use for other necessary medical procedures.” From there, Sisolak laid down the law: “Previously, I asked non-essential businesses to close their doors to the public. I am no longer asking them to do that. I am directing all non-essential businesses to close.” 

And for any individuals and businesses still looking for loopholes, Sisolak urged, “This is not the time to try to find loopholes —  if your business is not essential to providing sustenance and for the everyday safety, health, and wellbeing of Nevadans, you must shut down so that we can give healthcare workers and our fellow citizens the best chance at fighting this virus that we can. 

“If businesses defy this directive and stay open, state and local law enforcement will have the ability to treat this as a criminal act after all other options have been exhausted.” 
– Governor Steve Sisolak
Photo by Andrew Davey

Yesterday, Las Vegas Metro Police sent an email to reporters suggesting that they can’t enforce any mere suggestion for non-essential businesses to close. Today, Sisolak explicitly gave them and other state and local law enforcement agencies the authority and the mission to require any remaining open non-essential businesses to close shop.

On that, Sisolak stated, “By signing this directive I am granting local governments the authority they do not currently have to impose civil penalties — including fining and revoking licenses — of businesses that do not shut down. If businesses defy this directive and stay open, state and local law enforcement will have the ability to treat this as a criminal act after all other options have been exhausted. This directive goes into effect at midnight tonight and will remain in place until April 16th.”

Photo by Andrew Davey

Sisolak then acknowledged the real economic pain that this society-wide shutdown is causing, but again pointed to the science behind COVID-19 in declaring it necessary. After threatening even more stringent action if the rest of the state doesn’t move quickly enough to “#FlattenTheCurve”, Sisolak issued this final plea: “We can only do this together. Stay home for Nevada, and close your doors for now, so we can get them open for business sooner.”

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 Mutual Aid Disaster Relief and local groups like Three Square.

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