"I am incredibly concerned about the severity of COVID-19 in our state, as demonstrated in the increase in numbers," Gov. Steve Sisolak said on Wednesday while announcing that he plans to offer his next steps "in the near future."
Last week, the governor had urged Nevadans to stay home, wear a mask, and continue to socially distance so he wouldn’t have to impose stricter COVID-19 restrictions, Vegas Eater reports.
"My administration is exploring all mitigation options available to get this under control, while walking a tightrope to balance public health and economic impacts," Sisolak said on Wednesday. "The goal is to have the most impact on mitigating the spread and the least impact on our fragile economy."
Nevada set a new COVID record Thursday with more than 2,000 positive cases in a single day for the second time in a week, News 3 LV reports.
"I am incredibly concerned about the severity of COVID-19 in our state, as demonstrated in the increase in numbers," Sisolak added.
As we take a look at the Vegas valley, one organization is proposing what it believes will prevent further shutdowns.
Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights sent a letter to the governor Thursday, urging him to require that all casinos in the state adopt a smoke-free indoor policy, which they say is a better alternative than once again closing gaming properties.
They say this may be the best way to keep the economy going and keep people safe.
"One way to keep the casinos open, in theory, is if you wear the mask 100% of the time, and people can step outside to smoke," said Cynthia Hallett, president, and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR).
This is actually the second time the group is making this plea. They tried back in July as some casinos were still reopening following a months-long shutdown.
"We know that secondhand smoke is dangerous in the first place," said Hallett. "But because COVID is spread through respiratory droplets as airborne."
Dr. Constantine George breaks down three reasons going smoke-free can help: he says it has to do with removing your masks.
"Keeping the mask down to put the cigarette in your mouth is exposure," he said. There's also the issue of protecting others.
"If you're smoking yourself, or if you're in touch with secondhand smoke, you're more likely than not to cough," said George. "So if you're going to be coughing, you're going to also hear a lot aerosolize these particles as well."
And if you're carrying the virus, you're putting others at risk when smoking because the smoke particles travel farther when you exhale.
Park MGM became the Strip's first smoke-free resort when it reopened in late September.
In March, the state shut down nonessential businesses such as casinos, restaurants, and bar to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants could continue offering takeout and delivery options, and reopened in early May for dine-in service. Bars reopened in late May, only to see those that did not serve food forced to close again in July. In late September, bars reopened. Casinos reopened in June, with the last on the Strip, The Cromwell, returning in late October.
Nevada still has a mandatory mask order that requires face coverings in public spaces, including outdoors when social distancing is not possible. Businesses that reopened must maintain 50 percent capacity and social distancing.
Over the past 14 days, Nevada averaged 1,288 new COVID-19 positive cases daily, with 15.6 percent testing positive. Since the pandemic started in February, the state recorded more than 125,000 cases and 1,947 deaths.
In the meantime, Sisolak tested positive for COVID-19 on November 13 and continues to isolate at the governor’s mansion in Carson City. He reports only mild head congestion and completes his home isolation period early next week, “assuming all the criteria is met, including being asymptomatic for 24 hours following my 10 day isolation, per CDC guidelines.”