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EDITORIAL: Gov. Steve Sisolak has little choice but to put the pedal down

Gov. Steve Sisolak took the inevitable next step on Wednesday and extended his shutdown order until the end of April.

The “directive strengthens the imperative that Nevadans must not leave their homes for nonessential activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the governor’s statement said. “This directive builds upon previous directives around school closures, social distancing, closures of nonessential businesses and bans on public gatherings of 10 or more people by requiring you stay at home unless leaving is absolutely necessary.”

The order comes 15 days after Gov. Sisolak issued his first 30-day edict on March 17, closing casinos, bars and other businesses. It means that many Nevadans will now be out of work for at least six weeks. The devastating economic consequences mount each day for state residents and employers, particularly small businesses.

Still, Gov. Sisolak had no other options, particularly after President Donald Trump on Sunday extended the federal coronavirus guidelines until April 30. The situation became even grimmer on Tuesday when the president delivered a somber message to the nation, telling Americans that “we’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.” His public health team said the goal was to keep the virus’s death toll under 100,000. In order to mitigate casualties, they stressed, Americans must follow protocols such as those issued by governors across the country, including Gov. Sisolak.

“I know it’s stressful to follow the guidelines,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the administration, “but it is more stressful and more difficult to the soldiers on the front line. There’s no magic bullet, no magic vaccine or therapy. It’s just behaviors. Each of our behaviors translating into something that changes the course of this viral pandemic over the next 30 days.”

The quickest way to hasten a recovery, public health experts insist, is to adhere to stay-at-home orders in order to limit the emergence of hot spots such as New York City. To that end, Southern Nevada appears to have had some success. While cases and deaths continue to rise in the region, the Las Vegas area has yet to experience the rapid increases seen in some other heavily populated jurisdictions.

“The 15 days that we’ve had of mitigation have clearly have had an effect,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday in a hopeful note. The reason we feel so strongly about the necessity of the additional 30 days is that now is not the time … to take your foot off the accelerator … but to just press down on the accelerator.”

Gov. Sisolak on Wednesday pressed down on the accelerator. It was the only call, and Nevadans must heed it.

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