CARSON CITY, Nev. (KLAS) — When can Nevada reopen? That is the big question on many minds across the state.
Schools and non-essential businesses, including casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, have been closed for over a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is still no official date they can reopen. While experts say Nevada has started to reach a plateau, we are not out of the woods yet.
“We cannot take off the parachute,” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said.
Gov. Sisolak is cautiously considering next steps for reopening Nevada. But for things to get back to normal, Sisolak and his team say a phased approach is crucial.
“If we don’t do this in a controlled, informed manner, we’ll be hit by a tidal wave in two or three weeks,” Sisolak said. “I won’t do that to our state.”
“When social distancing measures are loosened too soon and without a layered approach, resurgence of the virus is imminent,” said Melissa Peek-Bullock, Nevada State Epidemiologist.
One major step that has been taken is all Nevada Schools will remain closed for the rest of the semester while distance learning continues.
“We will work together to support our students through the end of this school year, and then we can begin planning for a smooth transition back to our classrooms when the time comes,” said Jhone Ebert, superintendent of public instruction for the Nevada Department of Education.
Sisolak said Nevada is essentially in “Phase Zero” right now, where certain criteria need to be met before moving on the Phase I. Those criteria include: a sustainable, downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over a 14 day period, adequate healthcare systems and hospital capacity and the ability to protect vulnerable populations, such as residents at skilled nursing facilities and assisted living centers.
“If we continue on this path, the day is on the horizon,” Gov. Sisolak said.
Phase I, which is being developed by consulting Nevada experts, as well as the White House’s “Opening Up America Again” guidelines, is when restrictions on certain businesses will be loosened. Strategies will be developed for places such as gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, places of worship and sporting event venues. But bars will operate as they are right now, and social distancing for all locations will still be a priority.
“We’re doing everything we can to open up the economy as quickly as possible,” Sisolak said. “The lives of Nevadans are more important than profit.”