Updated August 5, 2021 - 5:18 pm
Gov. Steve Sisolak at a Thursday news conference continued to encourage — and times pleaded with — Nevadans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, announcing steps the state is taking to avoid shutdowns and mandates.
“I am not here today to announce capacity limits or closures or anything like that,” Sisolak said. “In fact, everything we’re currently doing is aimed at preventing just those scenarios.”
The governor called Nevada’s recent reinstatement of its mask mandate a “bridge” to help slow the spread of COVID-19 until more Nevadans are vaccinated, noting that “in Nevada, almost every COVID-19 death we have seen since January of 2021 has been in the case of an individual who is not fully vaccinated.”
Sisolak noted some improvements in the state’s vaccination rate, saying some 3.5 percent of eligible, unvaccinated adults received their first doses between July 25 and Sunday — an increase of 21 percent from the previous week and a slightly higher rate than the nationwide average.
However, hospitalizations and infection rates remain on the rise. On Thursday, Nevada reported 1,135 new coronavirus cases and 26 deaths, pushing state totals to 362,275 cases and 5,979 deaths attributed to the virus.
Delta variant rising
When the state rolled back mask mandates in May, Sisolak said, the delta variant accounted for less than 1 percent of the statewide COVID-19 cases. Just three months later, it now amounts to more than 90 percent. He pointed to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warnings that the variant is highly transmissible and may be transferred just as easily by vaccinated people.
The governor stressed the economy has started showing signs of recovery, and thousands of Nevadans are now back at work.
“As your governor, it is my job to consider all of this and to ensure I’m making decisions not just based on today, but also based on what could happen for the state in a few months if we don’t get this right,” Sisolak said.
Sisolak did announce several possible areas for increased mandates, saying he has asked the state’s medical advisers to look at the following:
— Vaccination requirements for all students attending in-person classes at public colleges and universities under the Nevada System of Higher Education.
— Vaccination recommendations regarding those who work with vulnerable populations, such as those in institutional settings, those working with the homeless community and those working in the health care system.
The governor also called on businesses and venues hosting large concerts or sporting events to submit a plan for better compliance with the state’s mitigation efforts.
“What happened at the soccer match … I mean everyone that walked through the turnstile had their masks on, and 10 minutes into the match, the masks all came off,” Sisolak said, referencing the CONCACAF Gold Cup final played Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.
“I’m asking (venues) to come up with a plan that is more effective for compliance and for enforcement,” he continued. “And it will be incumbent upon them to present to us the terms of how they want to do that.”
The governor stressed he was “tired of just giving people mandates” and seeking cooperation from venues in stemming the spread of the virus.
Asked if the state was considering, through its Gaming Control Board, vaccine mandates for casino workers or vaccination requirements to patronize restaurants and events, as have been implemented in New York City and Los Angeles, the governor again said he was encouraging the private sector to take whatever steps it can to stop the spread.
“No one wants to mandate,” Sisolak said. “No one likes the government telling them what they have to do.”
He made one more push for vaccinations.
“This is about more than just contracting the virus and getting safe,” Sisolak said. “It’s about protecting your fellow Nevadans. It’s about protecting these jobs.”
He continued: “Last year, our seniors lost a whole year of high school. They lost going to their prom, to their homecoming, to the football games. … I don’t want them to lose those memories again.”