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Sisolak won’t close economy but warns next 2 weeks crucial in COVID fight

Updated November 10, 2020 - 8:25 pm

CARSON CITY — Gov. Steve Sisolak implored Nevadans on Tuesday to remain at home as much as possible for the next two weeks to contain the spread of COVID-19 amid an uptick that has the state seeing some of the worst infection trends since the pandemic took hold in spring.

Without progress to curb the surging outbreak over the next 14 days, the governor said he would “be forced to take stronger action.”

“The fall spike predicted by all medical and scientific experts is now our reality,” Sisolak said at a press conference Tuesday night in the Capitol. “Nevadans need to accept and understand this reality now and change behaviors immediately. In the next two weeks, we must see a significant reversal of the current trends which are deeply concerning now.”

As in other parts of the country, the rate of new COVID-19 cases has been steadily increasing in Nevada since mid-September. Since Oct. 24, the state has reported more than 1,000 cases on nine separate days, including Tuesday.

In his remarks, Sisolak laid the burden to reduce the spread squarely on the public to adhere to proven containment practices.

“We have to go back to the basics, which by now are pretty common knowledge,” the governor said.

Outlining what he called “Stay at Home 2.0,” he said the “only proven way to control the current widespread transmission of COVID is to decrease mobility. That means staying home as much as we possibly can.”

The state needs time “to bring testing timelines down, catch up on contact tracing and relieve our health care infrastructure system,” he added. “We need swift action to change our behavior, so we can see a downward trajectory.”

The governor called for a renewed emphasis among businesses to allow employees to work from home and said he would ask local authorities to step up enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions for the next two weeks. He said the state would stop short, for now, of reimposing deeper restrictions on businesses or other aspects of daily life for Nevadans, such attendance at religious services, or on visitors to the state.

“If we can take action now, we can keep our businesses open, reduce the spread of COVID, save lives and keep our health care system from being overwhelmed,” Sisolak said. “As government officials, we can only adopt and enforce restrictions in businesses and public spaces.

“To be clear, I don’t want to take stronger action. I do not want to implement more restrictions. I want this to improve, and we can make it improve if everyone helps. I want to stay on the path to get all Nevada children back in classrooms, opening conventions by 50 percent by Jan. 1 and lifting more restrictions. That’s the path I’ve laid out for Nevada. We need to decide on we want to remain on it.

“Some people are going to ask, why not limit retail or casino resorts or restaurants right now? That’s a fair question. That’s the tightrope I was referring to. That is the tightrope of trying to balance controlling the COVID spread, protecting our hospitals from surges, and at the same time not destroying and shutting down our economy.”

The two week timeframe ends two days before Thanksgiving. The governor would not predict what restrictions might have to remain in place or be expanded ahead of the holiday and its traditional emphasis on homecomings and gatherings.

“I don’t know what we will have to decide in 14 days,” the governor said. “I’m hopeful that in 14 days I’ll be standing before you saying the people of Nevada came through again. I don’t want to think what’s going to happen in 14 days if we don’t, because what we’re facing is a very difficult situation.”

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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