COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force reviews, takes action on high transmission risk counties

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force (Task Force) held a public meeting Thursday to update the public on Nevada’s COVID-19 response.

Chaired by Nevada COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage and created via Directive 030, the Task Force met with seven counties flagged last week for having an elevated risk of transmission of COVID-19.

The Task Force voted to allow non-bar locations with countertops in Clark County, such as Sushi restaurants and diners to reopen next Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Social-distancing guidelines must be followed. Other restrictions will remain in place due to elevated case numbers and the risk of virus transmission risk. Bars and taverns that don’t serve food must remain closed.

Based on data provided this morning by the Department of Health and Human Services, all seven of the counties are still meeting at least two of the three criteria, signaling a sustained elevated risk of transmission.

No new counties were flagged this week and no counties dropped off the list this week.

Based on Directive 030, the COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force is authorized by the Governor to review and then accept or modify the plans proposed by the elevated risk counties. All plans, and implementation dates, will not be considered finalized until action to approve is taken by the Task Force.

The following is a detailed summary of the information presented and actions taken by the Task Force during the public meeting today:

CLARK COUNTY

Assessment Summary:

  • As of Aug. 31, Clark met 2 of the 3 elevated disease transmission criteria.
  • Clark continues to maintain high test positivity (12.6%), however it has experienced a 3.5 percentage point decrease since the beginning of August.
  • Clark County is currently conducting a testing program with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the State of Nevada to administer up to 60,000 additional drive-through coronavirus tests over 14 days at three separate locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley at no cost to individuals. The additional testing runs through September 18.
  • Last week, the Task Force approved an action plan that continues the current restrictions for bar, pubs, taverns, breweries, distilleries and wineries.

Approved Action Plan: 

  • The Task Force approved Clark’s proposal with respect to its mitigation plan.
  • Bars will remain closed in Clark, but it was clarified by the Task Force that counter tops in non-bar areas may be opened for food service under existing restaurant guidelines.

All counties — regardless of risk level — must maintain the statewide baseline mitigation measures, including wearing face coverings, limits on gathering sizes and capacity in businesses.

LANDER COUNTY

Assessment Summary:

  • Lander maintains a low case rate, however due to its low testing numbers and small population, it still met two of the criteria. Last week Lander experienced 10.4% test positivity. This week their positivity decreased to 8.0%.
  • In the last week, Lander County has identified a total of three new COVID-19 cases, and is still lacking a demand to perform a significant number of COVID-19 testing per day.
  • Lander’s approved action plan from last week includes community-based testing events beginning on August 31, messaging efforts, and ongoing contact tracing.

Approved Action Plan:

  • The Task Force took no additional action for Lander County.

LYON COUNTY
Assessment summary:

  • A large segment of the population is employed in cities and counties located outside of Lyon, and county officials will work with the state to identify where and how infection is occurring.
  • County officials report increased compliance with businesses and is working with OSHA and other regulatory agencies to continue this effort.
  • Since being notified of the criteria being met, Lyon’s positivity rate has dropped from 7.4% to 7.1%.
  • County officials have cancelled all large gatherings over which they have authority.

Approved Action Plan: 

  • Lyon’s approved action plan includes focusing on communicating and educating with agricultural producers and residents over the age of 65 to ensure education and compliance.
  • State officials agreed to meet with Lyon to further discuss reporting challenges raised by county officials.
  • Lyon will continue operations as status quo and will work with the State to determine any differences in the numbers and statistics.

CHURCHILL COUNTY
Assessment Summary:

  • Churchill maintains a low testing number. However, due to a high case rate and high positivity, it still met two of the assessment criteria. The county experienced a decrease in test positivity this week (9.8%) from last week (10.7%).
  • Churchill has maintained its initial surged hospital capacity implemented at the start of the pandemic and reports one patient currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

Approved Action Plan:

  • Churchill’s approved action plan includes focusing on education, community testing, rapid contact tracing response and compliance with State directives.
  • State officials agreed to meet with county officials to further discuss reporting challenges raised by county officials.
  • The county will continue operations as status quo and will work with the State to determine any differences in the numbers and statistics.

NYE COUNTY

Assessment:

  • This week, Nye County had a 11.4 percent positivity rate, a decrease from last week (14.7%).
  • Since Aug. 26, Nye has seen an increase of eight new positive COVID-19 cases with no new deaths. All the cases reside in Pahrump.
  • Through contact tracing, Nye has identified one primary exposure problem area at CoreCivic Detention Center with three asymptomatic detainees testing positive. CoreCivic is an ICE facility in Pahrump, managed by a private corporation.
  • Two weeks ago, the Task Force approved allowing bars to reopen in the areas of the county outside of Pahrump, including an enforcement mechanism to allow county officials to reclose the bars outside of Pahrump if cases increase.

Approved Action Plan:

  • The Task Force approved Nye’s proposed mitigation measures, but postponed the decision on opening bars in Pahrump for two weeks.
  • The Task Force will continue to work with Nye county leadership to build out mitigation measures, contact tracing, and business compliance efforts.

ELKO COUNTY

Assessment Summary:

  • The bulk of Elko County’s cases are primarily in the populated areas of the City of Elko, Spring Creek, the City of West Wendover, and the City of Carlin.
  • Since August 1, Elko County has reported 278 new cases and 272 recoveries and is reporting 86 active cases.
  • In the last week, Elko’s positivity rate climbed from 14.8 percent to 16.8 percent, saw a slight uptick in case rate and decrease on the tests per day measures.

Approved Action Plan: 

  • Given the continued and sustained elevated risk of transmission, the Task Force approved the action plan submitted by Elko that continues current restrictions for bars, pubs, taverns, breweries, distilleries, and wineries for another two weeks.
  • State officials will continue to work with Elko on enforcement and mitigation plans moving forward to bring the test positivity rate down.

WASHOE COUNTY

Assessment Summary:

  • As of Aug. 31, Washoe met 2 of the 3 elevated disease transmission criteria, with another increase in test positivity rate over the last week. As of Aug. 31, they are at 9.1 percent positivity. Last week they were at 8.3 percent.
  • Washoe reported that the majority of its cases are associated with workplaces, retail, recreation and dining, and private social gatherings.
  • Washoe has asked for no changes to its previously approved action plan.

Approved Action Plan: 

  • No changes to the action plan approved on August 27, which continued restrictions for bars, pubs, taverns, breweries, distilleries, and wineries in Washoe.
  •  Washoe will continue to work on improving mitigation efforts and further reducing the spread of the virus in its community.

More information on Task Force efforts can be found online on the Nevada Health Response page at nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/, under “News and Information” and “COVID Task Force Assessment.”

Please check back for updates on the Task Force’s latest response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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