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EDITORIAL: Sisolak needs to be more upfront on recovery plan

Nevadans need to hear more from Gov. Steve Sisolak about when they can expect to go back to work.

With U.S. coronavirus infections seemingly on the decline, state chief executives across the country are now forming plans to end the economic coma imposed to battle the pandemic. Governors in the Northeast and Midwest announced this week that they will coordinate efforts to lift their lockdowns.

In addition, California Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed his constituents on Tuesday with words of cautious optimism while outlining the factors he will use to determine when to gradually reopen the state. Those indicators include increased testing, medical readiness and the formation of guidelines for various businesses. Gov. Newsom noted that he was working in concert with his Democratic counterparts in Washington and Oregon.

The omission of Nevada and Gov. Sisolak, also a Democrat, is glaring, particularly given the Golden State’s importance to Nevada’s tourism industry. Gov. Sisolak tweeted Monday that he was eager to “work w/my fellow Western regional governors” to create a “strong plan” for a path toward normalcy.

But Nevadans deserve a more complete accounting.

At a Tuesday news conference, the governor offered few specifics about a reopening, focusing instead on assuaging fears about the state’s inability to handle the massive leap in unemployment claims. This is no doubt a vital topic for the thousands of jobless men and women struggling to pay rent during this remarkable time. However, it neglects the concerns of Nevadans awaiting details about the governor’s plans to jump-start the state.

“I am going to base the decision … on the advice given to me by the medical team that I have in place,” Gov. Sisolak said. “We are not there yet … I certainly don’t want to be premature, have to come back and say, ‘We went too fast.’ So we’re going to take it slow and steady and listen to the doctors.”

Fair enough. The virus crisis has forced Gov. Sisolak to take unheard-of steps, and the decision on lifting economic and stay-at-home restrictions will be among his most difficult. Nevada’s heavy reliance on gaming and crowded casinos, no doubt, presents unique challenges. But it’s unclear how long this lockdown can continue without imposing permanent economic damage and even, potentially, triggering unrest. Protests over coronavirus edicts are emerging in places such as Michigan and North Carolina.

That’s why it’s vital for Gov. Sisolak to deliver more than vague bromides and instead communicate to restless Nevadans — many of whom have been hunkered down at home for more than a month — his blueprint for gradually getting the state up and running again.

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