LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Gov. Steve Sisolak addressed Nevadans and the local media on Thursday to detail the state's plan to address the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases and the high demand for testing.
The presser comes after the Southern Nevada Health District announced the opening of two new mass-testing sites at Texas Station and Fiesta Henderson and relocated its UNLV test site to Sam Boyd Stadium. The district also extended hours at its College of Southern Nevada test sites. Still, the demand for testing remains high and at-home tests are flying off pharmacy shelves across the valley.
The state has ordered and requested fast-tracked delivery of 588,216 at-home COVID-19 tests, the governor announced. The tests are the FlowFlex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test and will be distributed to community partners throughout the state — places like health departments and libraries. There are expected to be at least 90 such locations statewide, according to the governor.
it will relieve those lines. We're in a difficult time period where people have many symptoms of illness all at once and it's difficult to determine what they have. It's important to have those tests to help them know if they're positive.— KTNV 13 Action News (@KTNV) January 13, 2022
Nevadans will be able to use the NV Health Response website to find the test closest to them and monitor when new tests are expected to arrive.
The governor was asked whether 500,000 tests is enough when states with smaller populations than Nevada have reportedly ordered more. In response, Sisolak said the state is working to get more tests as quickly as possible, but so is every other state.
State leaders acknowledged that positive results for at-home tests will likely not be reported, so the state won't know the true number of COVID-19 cases in the community. However, Sisolak noted the at-home tests provide results in 15 minutes, enabling people to find out whether they're positive and isolate themselves much faster than waiting for a PCR result. That is good news in terms of stopping the spread of the virus through the community, he said.
"This is just another tool we're using to help stop the spread," he said. But said the "biggest tool" Nevadans have to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and get a booster shot.
Multiple times throughout his press conference, the governor reiterated that he doesn't "want to take any steps backward."
"We have no intention of any more additional mitigation measures going forward," he said. "We encourage people to wear masks indoors and around people; we encourage people to get vaccinated and get a booster. We don't want to take steps backward."
Sisolak was also asked about the upcoming NFL Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star weekend and whether there are concerns about those large events amid the current surge.
...our folks working. We're doing everything we can in this state and this community to make it a safe place to come.— KTNV 13 Action News (@KTNV) January 13, 2022
"We've come through a lot of large events already," the governor said. "Those events translate into jobs. I want to do everything I can to keep our folks working. We're doing everything we can in this state and this community to make it a safe place to come."
State leaders acknowledged hospital staffing concerns and requests for assistance from the National Guard. They said they hope that access to more at-home tests will relieve some of the burdens on hospitals by reducing the number of people seeking testing in emergency rooms.
Further, Sisolak said the state is working on incentives to get traveling nurses to Nevada, but acknowledged it is a competitive process. He noted California and Texas had just ordered thousands of traveling nurses to help in their hospitals.