Today, Governor Steve Sisolak (D) used his latest press conference as an extended public service announcement. He called out bad actors, particularly those at Las Vegas City Hall, for undermining Nevada’s message to the rest of the country that it’s safe to return here. He also called out the Trump administration’s lack of a national strategy on COVID-19 and contrasted that with his plea to “take this seriously” now in order to successfully rebuild our post-pandemic “new normal” in the future.
First, an update on Nevada’s COVID-19 stats
Since Monday, Nevada’s COVID-19 numbers have remained relatively stable. For nearly two weeks Nevada’s seven-day test positivity average remained slightly above 15%, and it appears to have finally dipped below 15% today according to The Nevada Independent’s COVID-19 data tracker. While that’s still nearly triple the World Health Organization’s recommended 5% test positivity benchmark for safe reopening, that’s also below the 20%+ range we hit in July and again in August. And in case you’re wondering, Nevada’s cumulative test positivity rate continues to creep upwards, but the upward trajectory has been slowing as we’re still at 11.6%
According to Nevada Health Response, COVID-19 hospitalizations had also crept upward in recent days before dropping again today. At 631 (confirmed and suspected combined) total, that’s the lowest we’ve seen since mid-July.
Nevada has suffered 1,363 COVID-19 related deaths, as the state has reported another 27 deaths today. As we discussed on Monday, and again yesterday, this means that COVID-19 was at least a contributing cause of these 1,363 deaths. And as epidemiologist Dr. Gideon Meyerwitz-Katz explained last weekend, COVID-19 has been the underlying (or primary) cause of 95% of America’s COVID-19 deaths.
“Right now, our numbers are trending in the right direction. With that said, we need to remember that we started at a really high level. We need to bring these numbers down further.”
– Governor Steve Sisolak
LIVE: Gov. Sisolak provides an update on Nevada’s latest COVID-19 response efforts.
Posted by 8 News Now on Thursday, September 3, 2020
During today’s press conference at the Grant Sawyer State Building in Las Vegas, Governor Steve Sisolak hailed this recent progress, though he also recognized that too many Nevadans are still contracting COVID-19. Or as Sisolak put it, “Right now, our numbers are trending in the right direction. With that said, we need to remember that we started at a really high level. We need to bring these numbers down further.”
Sisolak then stressed that he understands Nevadans’ pent-up frustration over the health safety rules that have developed over the last six months. He then commended the vast majority of Nevadans who followed the rules regardless: “The vast majority of Nevadans are wearing their masks, are practicing social distancing, are avoiding large gatherings. We need to keep doing that.”
And while Sisolak promised that he and his administration will work in the coming days to figure out how to loosen the rules to allow for more school reopenings, more youth sports and other extracurricular activities, and more large events like religious services and music concerts, he also promised that he will only begin allowing more of this when the medical evidence clearly indicates that it’s safe to do so.
“All of our citizens are worthy of being represented. None of our citizens belong homeless or in the dirt, as it were.”
– Governor Steve Sisolak
During Sisolak’s event today, he alternated amongst communicating with everyday Nevadans who may not have the time and bandwidth to track the COVID-19 stats like many of us in the journalism world do, sending a message to a certain group of politicians at a certain city hall a few blocks away from his (Las Vegas) office who have made it harder for Clark County to do its job, and reassuring other states’ leaders that they shouldn’t worry about letting their residents come to visit us (despite recent exposes in ProPublica and The Daily Beast on Las Vegas Strip casinos becoming COVID-19 “superspreaders”).
Ultimately, Sisolak issued this message for everyone to heed: “I want the rest of the country to see that we take this seriously: We protect our workers, and we protect the visitors who come to this state.” And to those who continue to condemn Sisolak for not reopening everything immediately, he warned, “If they think there’s too high of a risk, they won’t let their residents come to visit.” He then added that if the state doesn’t act now to prevent another surge of COVID-19 this fall, “I won’t have to shut down the Strip again. The Strip will shut down itself without any visitors.”
And Sisolak didn’t stop there in debunking the ongoing disinformation campaign emanating from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and City Council Member Michele Fiore. After Goodman and Fiore repeated untruthful propaganda on COVID-19 deaths (see above) while refusing to even listen to Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick’s (D) plea for cooperation on health safety enforcement earlier this week, Sisolak fumed, “All of our citizens are worthy of being represented. None of our citizens belong homeless or in the dirt, as it were.”
“We need to focus on the long term. […] We have to meet this moment together. I know we’ll be proud of what we have done.”
– Governor Steve Sisolak
As we’ve been documenting for some time, even as far-right politicians like Michele Fiore have railed against Nevada’s current health safety rules, there’s growing evidence indicating that the state has not done enough to contain COVID-19, especially since Sisolak gave the green light for casinos to reopen on June 4. And of course, we’ve seen overwhelming evidence that President Donald Trump’s mostly laissez-faire approach to COVID-19 has been catastrophic for all of America, particularly as it’s forced state and local officials to make all the hard choices.
While Sisolak hinted at his own disapproval of Trump’s refusal to implement a national strategy to contain COVID-19, he expressed hope that as long as Nevadans continue to wear their masks while out in the public, social distance when they’re out of their homes, and avoid large crowds. And for Sisolak, “We need to focus on the long term. We will be better. We will recover. […] We have to meet this moment together. I know we’ll be proud of what we have done.”
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.