CARSON CITY — Gov. Steve Sisolak took another step Tuesday to slow the spread of the new coronavirus in Nevada by signing an emergency directive banning gatherings of 10 or more people.
Sisolak made the announcement in a news conference carried on his Facebook page. He praised Nevadans who are adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines, but he said some still aren’t taking the growing pandemic seriously.
“The best way to stop the spread of this virus is to practice aggressive social distancing and keep large groups of people apart,” Sisolak said. “But unfortunately, there are some who still don’t understand the severity of the issue we’re facing, and they continue to gather in groups and congregate.”
The governor said the restriction on under-10 group size includes indoor and outdoor public spaces such as social clubs, parks, libraries, parking lots, playgrounds and sports fields. Members of the same household are exempt from the restriction.
“You may enjoy a daily walk in the park with others in your household. But please, maintain a safe distance from those that are also enjoying the public spaces,” the governor said.
Sisolak said the directive “does come with consequences for those who fail to comply.” Police will first issue warnings but may resort to “more drastic measures” such as civil or criminal penalties.
Like other states across the country, Nevada has seen the number of COVID-19 infections spike, climbing to more than 275 cases and six deaths as of Tuesday. Despite the risks and repeated warnings about the potential spread of infection, people have continued to congregate in large groups, such as beachgoers in Florida for spring break.
In Nevada, officials have moved to restrict or limit access to recreation areas at Lake Mead and elsewhere because of the large number of visitors.
The governor’s latest order follows an array of directives he has signed over the past two weeks in an attempt to blunt the virus’ spread in Nevada.
Since declaring a state of emergency March 12, Sisolak has ordered the closure of all K-12 schools in the state, shut down all of the state’s casinos and mandated that all businesses deemed nonessential — such as gyms, hair salons and movie theaters — shut their doors for the next month.
Lack of supplies
Responding to questions from reporters, Sisolak noted that the state is lacking in COVID-19 test kits and personal protective equipment for health care workers.
On testing kits for the novel coronavirus, he said Nevada has received none thus far despite four requests to the federal government.
“We need testing kits desperately,” he said.
Nevada has placed two large orders to the federal government for the protective gear, Sisolak said. The state received only one-quarter of the requested equipment in the first shipment and expects to receive a similar quantity in the second, he said.
He said community groups had donated supplies, and he asked businesses with N95 masks or other protective equipment to contact his office.
“We desperately need (personal protective equipment) for our patients and our medical providers that are on the front end,” he said.
An earlier version of this story misstated the date on which Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an order declaring a state of emergency. He signed the order on March 12.