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Clark County, City of Las Vegas respond to Dr. Birx's recommendation of 'aggressive' steps

11 major cities told to take steps
Some states should consider scaling back reopening, Dr. Birx says
Posted at 7:16 AM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 10:17:53-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Dr. Deborah Birx is calling for 11 major cities seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases to take “aggressive” steps in order to curb their outbreaks.

According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, Las Vegas is one of those cities.

The recommendation took place during a weekly call with local and state officials on Wednesday.

According to a previous report, Clark County is in a red zone within Nevada and it has been recommended that all gyms and pools to be closed again.

Birx also recommended expanded contact tracing in areas where test positivity is going up.

Clark County sent this response to the report:

Clark County plays a leading role when emergencies occur in our community, and we continue to work closely with local, state and federal health officials and organizations across the state to aggressively implement safety measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and keep the public informed of important actions they can take protect themselves from the virus and limit its spread. For instance:

• Clark County has worked steadily to expand COVID-19 testing options for the public in partnership with Southern Nevada Health District, UMC, the Nevada National Guard and local ambulance companies. Since May 5, we have conducted a total of 115,261 COVID-19 tests at various community-based sites. Today alone our efforts resulted in 2,930 tests within the Las Vegas Valley. The numbers include 18,343 mobile strike team tests throughout Southern Nevada at one- and two-day testing events in outlying towns, parking garages, schools and other locations. Additionally, 84,652 tests have been conducted at fixed testing site locations in the Las Vegas Valley including 50,052 at the UNLV Tropicana garage next to the Thomas & Mack Center; 33,256 at Texas Station; and 13,610 at the Orleans during its three weeks of operation.

• At a news conference Tuesday, Clark County and Southern Nevada Health District officials updated the public on plans to significantly increase contact tracing of COIVD-19 cases in Southern Nevada. Currently, the Health District has about 60 staff working COVID-19 cases and is working to expand its ranks of disease investigators and contact tracers to follow up with people who test positive for the virus and their potential contacts. Disease investigators follow up with those who test positive for the virus and conduct the case investigation, while contact tracers follow up with the identified close contacts of those who test positive. The Health District is in the process of adding 200 case investigators, 100 through UNLV and 100 through a contract with a local call center. The Health District is also adding approximately 200 contact tracers, 80 through a grant with the state, 100 through a state contract, and 25 through staff that Clark County’s Department of Family Services has dedicated to assist with contract tracing efforts.

• From the beginning of the outbreak, we have encouraged the public to follow the guidance of the CDC and local health officials to practice social distancing, stay home as much as possible, wear face coverings, and practice good hand-washing hygiene. At Tuesday’s news conference we also urged anyone receiving a positive test result or those who are identified as close contacts of patients to self-isolate at home to help slow the spread of the virus in our community by self-isolating.

• In June, due to the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Clark County occurring in the Hispanic community, County leaders organized a Spanish-language outreach initiative, called “Esta En Tus Manos” (It’s in your hands) to boost understanding among Latino residents of all ages about the need to wear face coverings in public places, visit free testing sites, and find resources to help protect themselves and their families from the virus. The effort includes a website at estaentusmanosnevada.com to serve as an informational hub for the Hispanic community to find testing locations, health care and other resources to help people dealing with impacts from the virus.

• Business license agents from the County and area jurisdictions have been visiting area businesses to educate them about the Governor’s directives and provide enforcement of them. Clark County and area jurisdictions have weekly calls to coordinate amongst our business licensing departments to ensure consistency in approach in enforcing the Governor’s directives.

• Rental assistance through the CARES Housing Assistance Program (CHAP), which serves residents of Clark County, who because of the COVID-19 emergency or the response to that emergency, have suffered substantial financial hardship and now lack sufficient income or resources available to pay their housing costs. Information about the CHAP program can be found at: https://helphopehome.org/clark-county-cares-housing-assistance-program/

• Business assistance grants: http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/public-communications/news/Pages/County-Now-Accepting-Applications-for-Small-Business-Grants-for-Rent-Assistance-Safety-Retrofits.aspx

Gov. Steve Sisolake's office also sent this response:

The Governor's Office is aware of the statement from Dr. Birx , which aligns with reports that the White House has previously made available to the State, that the State has in turn made available to local governments through the Nevada Association of Counties and Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities. Localities that are newly listed in the red and yellow zones by the White House have been asked to provide additional actions they have taken or plan to take — beyond measures already taken Statewide — to implement the policy recommendations from the White House.

City of Las Vegas

The City of Las Vegas also provided a letter that they sent to the governor’s office outlining the actions they have taken in recent weeks, including sending business licensing and code enforcement staff to monitor businesses for compliance on the mask mandate.

The letter also mentions that the city will be moving to “immediate implementation of an expanded testing program with numerous pop-up and permanent sites to include the use of the former Cashman Convention Center as a permanent site.”

The City of Las Vegas also announced on Wednesday that they are sending “compliance ambassadors” into the community to educate businesses and employees.