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June 17, 2021

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Sisolak hits pause on reopening state after uptick in virus cases

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak Presser

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Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak updates Nevadans on Phase 2 of the Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery Plan during a press conference Monday, June 15,2020.

Updated Monday, June 15, 2020 | 7:23 p.m.

Nevada won’t be transitioning to another stage in the restarting of the economy after coronavirus closures because testing data is still being evaluated to measure the impact of the reopening and there’s been a slight upward trend in infections, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Monday.

At a news conference Monday evening, Sisolak said there is no timeline for further expansion of businesses or the lifting of restrictions.

“Seventy days ago, thereabouts, we closed casinos,” Sisolak said. “It seems like five years ago to me. It seems like an eternity that we’ve been living under this.”

The state transitioned into Phase 2 of its reopening plan on May 29, with casinos opening soon after on June 4.

In Phase 2, gatherings increased from 10 people to 50, with social distancing standards. Gyms and fitness clubs were permitted to reopen and must operate at 50% capacity. Also permitted to open were movie theaters, bowling alleys, indoor malls, museums, art galleries, pools and water parks, all operating at half capacity.

Sisolak said there has been an upward trend in daily new cases over the last three weeks with the seven-day average percentage of positive results increasing from 2.7% to 4.5% since May 25.

“We had the expectation that as a result of reopening and an increase in testing, our positive cases were likely to increase,” Sisolak said. We have seen an increase in positive cases, but that has yet to negatively impact the capacity of our hospitals.”

That means some industries will remain closed, most notably adult entertainment establishments, brothels, nightclubs and day clubs.

“Before expanding our reopening, and entering to Phase 3, we must continue to allow ourselves the time to evaluate this new medical information, along with the impact of reopening to make sure we’re doing all we can to protect ourselves and the capacity of our health care system to respond to the virus,” Sisolak said.

The pandemic has impacted Nevada’s budget greatly, with a potential shortfall of around $900 million this fiscal year and $1.3 billion next fiscal year. It’s anticipated around 50 state employees will be laid off, and the state is furloughing all workers for one day a month and freezing merit pay increases.

Sisolak said there will be a special legislative session this fiscal year, which ends on July 1. It will be held in person in Carson City, he said, though the timing has not been set.

“We are clearly in an extremely difficult position,” he said. “We’re short (funds) that we’re going to have to come up with, and it’s going to be done through a combination of the revenue and the expense side. I know it’s difficult for me to even think about raising taxes when I’ve got families that are still unemployed, still waiting to get back to work.”