Updated July 2, 2020 - 12:37 pm
CARSON CITY — With Nevada pausing in its COVID-19 recovery plan through July amid rising rates of infection and illness, the state on Wednesday announced a new push to fight the disease through targeted outreach and intervention, as well as stepped-up enforcement of protective health measures.
Among the new initiatives: state hotlines to report businesses not complying with health directives, street-level outreach in communities hardest hit by the outbreak, and installation of public hand-sanitizing stations in those communities.
“We know that if we stay safe, we can stay open, and I’m grateful that the state continues to take a concerted approach in our efforts to mitigate the spread,” Gov. Steve Sisolak said in a statement accompanying the plan’s release.
State enforcement of directives for social distancing and mandatory use of facial coverings in most public areas “will increase exponentially,” according to the new plan. The state will step up “unannounced business surveillance” and additionally has set up hotlines to take complaints regarding noncompliant businesses.
Enforcement will be shared among local authorities and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration section of the state Department of Business and Industry’s Division of Industrial Relations. For businesses, OSHA will be “starting a new campaign focused on immediate identification of infractions” of COVID-19 directives on business operations and “individual closure of businesses as those infractions occur.”
The hotline numbers are 702-486-9020 in the southern part of the state and 775-688-3700 in northern sections. State employees will take calls and handle on-site inspections as needed based on the type of complaint. The state also will work with local business chambers to foster compliance through messaging and outreach, including offering free face coverings.
As for outreach, a new “Prevention Ambassador Program” will provide outreach and resources for residents. Volunteers and paid staff will be trained to educate and encourage individuals to take the precautions necessary to protect themselves from the virus and sent to affected communities.
The outreach effort will roll out first in Clark County and “move to other affected areas of the state as needed,” according to a state plan released Wednesday. Clark County represents more than 72 percent of the state’s population and almost the same portion of Nevada’s COVID-19 cases.
The plan cites statistics for June on Nevada’s confirmed COVID-19 cases that show a “significantly higher proportion” of Hispanics — 63 percent, compared with 40 percent of confirmed positive cases before June. June positives show a lower proportion of Blacks — 6 percent, compared with 11 percent before June. Asians and Pacific Islanders registered 5 percent of June cases, compared with 11 percent earlier, and whites were 19 percent, compared with 34 percent earlier.
June’s COVID-19 cases in Nevada are also younger. People under 30 testing positive for the disease represented 37 percent of June cases compared with 22 percent earlier; people older than 50 were 24 percent, compared with 42 percent of earlier cases.
The state aims to test at least 2 percent of Nevada’s population, or roughly 60,000 people, each month. Everyone who tests positive is to be contacted by a tracer within 24 hours of a confirmed result reported to a local health authority, with associates of that person contacted within 24 hours after that.