March 24, 2020 - 9:00 pm
Gov. Steve Sisolak has had the unenviable task of crippling Nevada’s economy in response to the coronavirus. Now, the governor needs to be proactively addressing the concerns Nevadans have about what comes next.
Last week, Mr. Sisolak held a news conference announcing that he was closing casinos for 30 days. He also asked nonessential businesses to shut down during that time. He then announced he was canceling something else — in-person news conferences.
“This is likely my last press conference in-person to protect my staff, to protect members of the media,” Gov. Sisolak said. “We will continue to update all Nevadans through other methods, including videos, emails.”
Many governors throughout the country have continued to hold live briefings during the crisis, as has President Donald Trump. But fair enough.
On Friday, Gov. Sisolak used a Facebook Live video to tell Nevadans that the “suggested” closure of nonessential businesses was now mandatory. He did take questions from the press via telephone.
Two days later, Gov. Sisolak announced that former-MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren will lead a coronavirus task force. Supplementing the public response with expertise from the private sector is welcome. It was a missed opportunity then that Gov. Sisolak answered only four questions from the media. His press team also selected those questions.
On Tuesday, the governor weighed in again with an edict banning gatherings of 10 or more people, either inside or out. He also took a handful of email questions.
But much remains unknown.
Nevadans continue to be in the dark about what Gov. Sisolak and state officials are doing to increase surge capacity at hospitals. What are the many government “emergency management” personnel doing to ensure the medical supply chain remains viable or the state has secured enough respirators? Many state residents are also wondering how long these “stay-at-home” orders will last given the economic calamity they may produce. There may be no crystal ball, but the public deserves regular updates on these issues from the man they elected to lead the state.
No doubt the decisions Gov. Sisolak has made in recent weeks have weighed heavily on him. The responsibility is tremendous, and Nevadans of all political persuasions have largely been supportive in understanding that these drastic steps are necessary to slow the spread of the illness and hasten a return to normal life. But that makes it even more vital for Gov. Sisolak to make his presence felt. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost or are hanging by a thread. An untold number of lives are at stake. The governor must continue to offer regular updates and field unfiltered questions in order to provide guidance to Nevadans searching for answers.