As lawmakers in Western states join forces to tackle the next steps in handling the coronavirus pandemic, Nevada’s governor has created a roadmap for how he plans to safely reopen the economy.
Gov. Steve Sisolak joined ABC News’ “Pandemic: What You Need to Know” on Wednesday to discuss the recently formed Western States Pact. He also offered details of his plan to reopen the economy in phases, taking Las Vegas into careful consideration, and explained why he decided to extend the state’s stay-at-home order.
“Joining the Western Pact has been extremely important to us. Those governors are friends of mine,” Sisolak said, adding that “they are a big part of our tourist base.”
The pact had previously involved California, Oregon and Washington, but on Monday, Nevada and Colorado announced that they’d be joining.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak responds to a question during a news conference at the Sawyer State Building in Las Vegas, March 17, 2020.Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak responds to a question during a news conference at the Sawyer State Building in Las Vegas, March 17, 2020.Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP, FILE
“We’re exchanging best practices in coming up with a plan because the virus does not respect state borders. It is important to get groups together to combat this virus and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Sisolak said.
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Sisolak’s forthcoming reopening plan, named “Nevada United Road Map to Recovery,” will start out by allowing hospitals to resume medically necessary procedures before beginning to ease restrictions on retail and outdoor activities.
“We’re going to loosen up what some of the restrictions are. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to extend the stay-at-home order a little bit because we just have not reached exactly where we want to get in the downward trajectory,” he said. “Our statistics have plateaued. We’ve got almost 5,000 cases now in the state of Nevada and 225 fatalities.”
“Those numbers have kind of stabilized and our hospitalizations and intensive care hospitalizations have begun to decline,” he continued. “So that’s what we’re looking for to continue to bring our economy back to life a little bit.”
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Amid pressure from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman to reopen casinos and businesses right away, Sisolak said there would be multiple people involved in orchestrating that process as the proper safety measures need to be ensured.
Bicyclists ride along the Las Vegas Strip, April 25, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada.Bicyclists ride along the Las Vegas Strip, April 25, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada.David Becker/AFP via Getty Images
“The strip is actually in Clark County. We’ve got a great partnership with Chairwoman Kirkpatrick at the county commission, and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve in particular, to help us with the openings,” he said. “I’m in regular contact with the resort operators. It’s not something as simple as flipping a switch and suddenly everybody is going to come back to Las Vegas.”
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Sisolak said officials also need to “work on the travel part” together, which was one of the reasons Nevada joined with its adjoining states to help get people to come visit again.
“The casino and the gaming enterprises will probably come in the third or the fourth phase of what we’re doing here because we’re just not ready yet to handle that type of a volume,” Sisolak said.
“We want everybody to come to Las Vegas. Reno’s a great place to come and enjoy yourself. But it has to be safe both for our employees and for our visitors,” he added. “Our culinary union, for example … that handles a lot of the strip. They’ve had 11 fatalities of their members and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that they don’t double that number in the future.”