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Sisolak says it’s too early to know when coronavirus measures will end

Updated March 26, 2020 - 8:10 pm

Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday it was too early to predict when COVID-19 cases in Nevada might reach their peak, and he suggested that the state might still enact tougher measures to enforce social distancing guidelines.

“We don’t know when this will spike, when the curve will level or start on its way down,” Sisolak said, appearing in a livestreamed briefing with an infectious disease doctor to answer questions about the disease.

“It’s too premature to make those kinds of predictions,” added Dr. Shadaba Asad, director of infectious disease at University Medical Center and a member of Sisolak’s COVID-19 response team. “Our mitigation efforts have been excellent. But, you know, those mitigation measures need to be in place for a little while longer to actually see any change in those epidemiological curves.”

Since declaring a state of emergency March 12, Sisolak has issued several directives aimed at slowing the spread of the virus, including closing of all K-12 schools in the state, shutting down all of the state’s casinos, mandating that all businesses deemed nonessential — such as gyms, hair salons and movie theaters — shut their doors for the next month and banning gatherings of 10 or more people.

Asked whether he still might issue a statewide stay-at-home order for the public as other states have, Sisolak said, “Everything is on the table at this point.”

“Ideally I would like 100 (percent of) people to be practicing social distancing,” he said. “We are not at 100 percent. Yes, a lot of people have followed our directives and are doing more. … If you choose to ignore these (directives), it’s not just affecting you. It’s affecting our entire community.”

President Donald Trump said this week he wants the U.S. “opened up” by Easter on April 12 because he fears that the damage inflicted on the economy by too much isolation and lengthy business shutdowns could be worse than the virus itself.

Sisolak’s mandated closure of nonessential businesses, including the state’s casinos, lasts until April 16 and could be extended based on the situation.

Asked if he would reassess how long Nevada would keep those businesses closed after Trump’s comments, the governor said he was “relying on medical guidance and statistics.”

“We’re not basing this hopes or emotions or politics; it will strictly be based on medical decisions, medical guidance and statistics,” he said.

Asad agreed, saying that the situation has to be “re-evaluated on a day-to-day, week-by-week basis.”

“That’s the only way we can come up with a date when we can reopen,” Asad said.

Asad also addressed concerns from health care workers who worry about nurses and doctors having to ration or reuse masks and other protective gear amid a shortage of medical supplies.

She said that hospitals are trying “to make sure we are absolutely not wasting any of our personal protective gear.”

“We are not cutting back on personal protective gear, but we are making sure we are not wasting it,” Asad said, noting that they are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations. “We are maximizing our use. We are not cutting corners.”

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter. Contact Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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