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Sisolak Announces “Phase Two” of Nevada’s “Roadmap to Recovery” Begins Friday. Here’s What Will Reopen.

Moments earlier, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) officially announced that Nevada will officially arrive in “Phase Two” of the state’s “Roadmap to Recovery” this Friday, including the reopening of casinos on June 4. So what else is opening?

If you’re hoping to worship your chosen deity and/or chase your dreams of becoming a MMA deity, then Sisolak has some good news for you.

So how ready are we for “Phase Two”?
COVID-19, coronavirus, Steve Sisolak
Gov. Steve Sisolak discusses measures to help the public with housing stability amid the COVID-19 public health crisis next to State Treasurer Zach Conine, right, at a press conference at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas, Sunday, March 29, 2020. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Pool) @rookie__rae

Up through last week, Sisolak’s office and various state agencies were touting a fairly steady decline in new positively tested COVID-19 cases and confirmed COVID-19 related deaths as evidence that Nevada is well on its way to a sustainable recovery. Then last Friday, Sisolak’s office announced this press conference tonight to announce the state’s progression into “Phase Two” this Friday and the official June 4 target date to begin reopening casinos.

Yet in the past few days, we’ve also seen a series of warning signs. While the Nevada state lab has been working to produce more of its own testing kits to expand testing capacity, the state nonetheless also used “rapid tests” provided by the federal government that are now facing scrutiny for potentially missing some infections. Weeks after SEIU health care workers raised concerns over the PPE shortages affecting their workplaces, frontline health care workers across the nation continue to report PPE shortages.

And that leads to another key concern: Nevada’s hospitals remain at over two-thirds capacity, including a 70% occupancy rate in hospitals’ ICU beds as of last Friday. Without sufficient contact tracing to better identify and isolate COVID-19 infections going forward, without sufficient resources for health care providers to (safely) do their jobs, and without sufficient guidance, leadership, and support from the federal government to actually address this public health crisis (rather than pretend it’s just “temporary stock market volatility”), how confident can we truly be about our health care system’s ability to handle the COVID-19 caseload in the days, weeks, and months ahead?

“Nevadans have done an incredible job helping to flatten the curve. […] It’s because of your response that I am able to relax some of the restrictions as we enter Phase Two.” 
– Governor Steve Sisolak
Gov. Steve Sisolak discusses measures to help the public with housing stability amid the COVID-19 public health crisis at a press conference at the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas, Sunday, March 29, 2020. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Pool) @rookie__rae

Even as most Americans continue to express support for social distancing rules to protect themselves and each other, recent cell phone data indicates that people are moving around more and distancing less. How is it possible to protect people while allowing freedom of movement?

Sisolak just announced that he’s putting Nevada to the test, even after Sisolak cancelled tonight’s planned press conference due to a potential exposure to COVID-19 late last week. (He just learned of the positively tested case in question today.) As Sisolak explained (in a statement released to local media) his sudden change of plans, “I want to be clear: I feel fine and I am not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. I hope Nevadans can use this as a learning lesson, if you have been exposed, or if you know someone who has been exposed, go get a test, even if you’re asymptomatic. It’s that easy.”

Nonetheless, Sisolak announced that the state will officially shift into Phase Two beginning Friday: “Nevadans have done an incredible job helping to flatten the curve, and I want to again thank you for understanding the severity of this health care crisis and for taking the necessary precautionary measures, like making a face covering a part of everyday wear.” He continued, “It’s because of your response that I am able to relax some of the restrictions as we enter Phase Two.”

So who gets to reopen?
Photo by Andrew Davey

So what exactly will reopen starting Friday? For a fuller list, check here. Most notably, some of the biggest flashpoints of controversy in recent days will be allowed to reopen under special rules. For one, gyms and other fitness centers can reopen, though larger gyms must only fill up to 50% of their official fire code capacity. This comes after a Las Vegas Crossfit gym attempted an illegal reopening last week and filed a lawsuit after Las Vegas Metro Police stopped their “bootleg reopening”.

Also, in-person religious services can resume this weekend, provided that they consist of 50 people or fewer while everyone is kept at least six feet apart. This comes after Trump threatened to force states to allow churches to resume physical services, and after U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr threatened lawsuits against Nevada, California, and Illinois for prior restrictions on gatherings of ten or more people.

Photo by Andrew Davey

In general, the state will allow more gatherings of up to 50 people, provided that social distancing is being practiced and enforced. Sisolak also confirmed that casino resorts can begin reopening on June 4 and promised that the Nevada Gaming Control Board will soon provide more guidance on how that will happen. Sisolak’s announcement also referred to the allowance of audience-free live sporting events, potentially clearing the way for professional sports companies like the NBA and UFC to begin or resume sporting events here in Las Vegas.

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 DistrictWashoe County Health DistrictCarson 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.

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