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Nevada COVID-19 task force votes to allow bars to reopen

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Virus Outbreak Nevada
Posted at 8:45 AM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 23:31:55-04

UPDATE AT 5:30 P.M.: The task force took action on Clark and Elko’s plans to reopen bars, pubs, taverns, breweries, distilleries, and wineries with additional measures in place, including increased enforcement efforts throughout the counties. These new action plans will take effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20.

CLARK COUNTY

Assessment Summary:

  • Clark County continues to meet 2 of the 3 elevated disease transmission criteria.
  • Clark’s test positivity rate dropped 2.6% since last week (now at 8.6%), demonstrating positive returns on its comprehensive action plan previously approved by the Task Force. Clark’s case rate continues to drop and is above the threshold for the average number of tests per day.
  • Clark reports sufficient hospital capacity throughout the region.
  • Clark County is currently conducting a testing program with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the State of Nevada to administer up to 60,000 additional drive-through coronavirus tests over 14 days at three separate locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley at no cost to individuals. The additional testing runs through September 18.

Approved Action Plan:

  • This week, the Task Force approved Clark County’s plan to reopen bars, pubs, taverns, breweries, distilleries and wineries with certain restrictions in place, including increased enforcement measures. This measure will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20 and will include input on increased enforcement and mitigation measures. At a minimum, the reopened businesses must follow statewide standards and enforcement measures, which include, but is not limited to required face coverings for employees and customers and a 50 percent capacity limit.
  • State officials will continue to work with Clark on enforcement and mitigation efforts to help further reduce the county’s positivity test rate and case rate.
  • State officials have requested proactive mitigation plans in the event of increased positivity test rates and case rates going forward.

ELKO COUNTY

Assessment Summary:

  • Elko continues to meet 2 of the 3 elevated disease transmission criteria.
  • In the last week, Elko’s positivity rate has dropped from 12.6% to 6.2%, demonstrating positive returns on its comprehensive action plan previously approved by the Task Force.
  • Testing has increased in Elko through existing local resources, a private vendor, and additional resources requested from the State.

Approved Action Plan:

  • This week, the Task Force approved Elko County’s plan to reopen bars, pubs, taverns, breweries, distilleries and wineries with certain restrictions in place, including increased enforcement measures. This measure will go into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20 and will include input on increased enforcement and mitigation measures. At a minimum, the reopened businesses must follow statewide standards and enforcement measures, which include, but is not limited to required face coverings for employees and customers and a 50 percent capacity limit.
  • State officials will continue to work with Elko on enforcement and mitigation plans moving forward to continue to keep the test positivity rate down and to increase testing within the county.
  • State officials have requested proactive mitigation plans in the event of increased positivity test rates and case rates going forward.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak issued the following statement in response to the recent actions related to reopenings taken by the Nevada COVID-19 Mitigation and Management Task Force:

“I am beyond thrilled that the hard work of Nevada’s residents and businesses has resulted in our COVID-19 data trending in a positive direction, allowing the Task Force to lift restrictions on bars in counties that previously had these mitigation measures in place due to their transmission risk levels.

I have consistently been in support of safely lifting restrictions and reopening areas of our economic and social life based on improvements in our data, in addition to strong participation and enforcement plans from local governments. The work completed by the Task Force over previous weeks, in addition to their recent actions, represent the State’s commitment to a transparent process, a safe reopening, and coordinated partnerships with our local governments.

I want to thank the Task Force and local governments for their work toward helping to accomplish our overall goal: safely lift restrictions based on data so our businesses can succeed and our workers can get back on the job.”

Clark County also released regional protocols here.

UPDATE AT NOON: Clark County requested that all bars be allowed to reopen and that the rules be changed for gatherings be changed during today’s coronavirus task force meeting.

Specifically, Clark County requested that bars, pubs, taverns, distilleries, breweries, and wineries be allowed to go back to Directive 21. Clark County also asked for churches and conventions be allowed to operate at reduced capacity, both at 50% occupancy rates, adhering to state guidelines for social distancing and wearing of masks.

PREVIOUS STORY: Gov. Sisolak announces bars will return to Phase 1

Clark County requested that these approvals go into effect 11:59 p.m. Sept. 20.

During the task force meeting, Julie Peek, deputy administrator of the Division of Public and Behavioral Health, said that in the last 30 days Clark County has traced 26% of cases to a hotel-casino and 12% to food establishments.

Peek also pointed out though that there is uneven testing, meaning that some businesses may have more positive test results because of more testing.

Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick spoke again this week during the meeting, making a pitch to reopen bars. Kirkpatrick pushed for the reopening of countertops during the last meeting of the task force.

PREVIOUS STORY: Bars to remain closed in Clark, Nye and Washoe counties, countertops will reopen next week in Clark County

However, Caleb Cage, head of the task force, pointed out that the task force can only make decisions about public venues and only the governor can make decisions about gatherings and capacity limits.

Cage also expressed concern about recent gatherings, including on Labor Day, and asked county officials what they are going to do if there is an increase in the number of cases as a result.

County officials responded that they have not seen an uptick yet in the numbers as a result of Labor Day and they will address enforcement on an individual basis.

Ultimately, the task force voted to allow bars, pubs, distilleries and breweries that are still closed to reopen on Sept. 20. They will be required to follow previous guidelines given for social distancing.

ORIGINAL STORY
LAS VEGAS (KTNV) -- The Nevada COVID-19 task force will hold its weekly meeting Thursday to see whether current restrictions in numerous counties need to remain in effect.

Ahead of the meeting, Gov. Steve Sisolak provided an update on Wednesday on the state's ongoing response. He says there is a downward trend for COVID-19 hospitalizations and case numbers as well as the seven-day test positivity rate are also decreasing.

Watch a livestream of the task force update at 10 a.m. below or on our Facebook page here:

RELATED: Gov. Sisolak asks White House to clarify COVID-19 guidelines after Trump rallies in Nevada

As of Wednesday, another 208 people were diagnosed with coronavirus in Nevada. Data from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services show 60% of those new cases were reported in Clark County.

The state reports in the last seven days there has been an average of 284 cases per day. That's good news compared to the last week of July where there was an average of more than 1,000 new cases per day.

Coronavirus Tracker | Latest numbers from county, state officials

The governor says contact tracing is working. More than 18,000 cases have been identified as a result of contact tracing efforts statewide.

Nevada was also recently dropped off the travel advisory list with New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

"This did not happen by chance," said Sisolak.

"This is by the hard work and sacrifices that true Nevadans made -- are continuing to make -- to help prevent the spread of COVID-19," he reiterated, "that [is how] this is becoming possible."

The state's health department is currently reviewing the Centers for Disease Control's playbook on how they will distribute a COVID-19 vaccine once it's available and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

But Nevada health officials say they want everyone to focus on getting their flu vaccine right now since a second wave of the coronavirus could hit during flu season.

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The governor remains cautious and wants to make sure the state is not moving too fast in loosening more restrictions.

Because of the large gatherings we saw during labor day weekend, Gov. Sisolak says he wants to remind everyone there are multiple opportunities to get tested for COVID-19 in Nevada.

Read the full state report here.