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Governor says state will target coronavirus shutdowns based on infection rates

by Geoff Dornan R-C Capitol Bureau

Saying shutting down the entire state for coronavirus outbreaks in individual counties or even businesses is not sustainable and that his administration is moving to a targeted approach that examines what’s happening in individual counties.

“Shutting down public and economic activity throughout the state is not sustainable in the long term,” he said at his Monday evening press conference. “Hundreds of thousands of Nevadans lost their jobs and our fragile economy took a massive hit.”

Instead of blanket statewide rules, he said each county will make decisions based on the situation in their county and work with the state to see which counties can possibly open up a bit more. He said that means looking not just at the county but at where the source of a problematic increase in infections is coming from.

“If there is an increase in positives form a nursing facility, it wouldn’t make sense to close down indoor dining,” he said as an example.

Sisolak said the goal is to assess why individual counties are seeing an increase and what is causing it. He said the emphasis will be on targeting the source of infections.

He said the same will apply in examining how casinos are doing, targeting not the entire casino but seeking to identify where the problem is — the pool, restaurants, gaming floor or other aspects of resort operations and deal with the problem area more surgically.

Sisolak’s pandemic manager Caleb Cage said officials will be looking at a variety of measures in each county such as whether the average number of tests per day is less than 150 per 100,000 population, whether case rates are greater than 50 per 100,000 and whether the percentage of tests that come back positive are over 7 percent. That is a reduction from the original 10 percent positivity that was in effect.

Cage said they will look at the number of hospitalizations in each county and, a factor he and Sisolak both mentioned more than once, enforcement.

He said counties have been asked to submit plans to implement the new rules that are data driven.

He said counties that implement the rules properly may be able to convince the state they should be allowed to reopen some businesses and relax restrictions but that the state will maintain the power to tighten things back up if necessary.

Sisolak said, however, that bars, clubs and taverns in four counties — Clark, Washoe, Elko and Nye — will remain closed down at this point.

Sisolak said if everyone works together and Nevadans comply with social distancing, sanitization and avoiding large groups, the new rules should work, “and allow more sections of our economy to re-open.”

As of Monday morning, Nevada had 51,199 COVID-19 cases. Of the new 919 cases, 92.5 percent were in Clark County and just 50 in Washoe with the remaining 25 spread across the state. Some 1,152 people are hospitalized and hospital rates are at 76 percent with ICU rates at 66 percent.

Less than half the ventilators in Nevada are in use right now.

But Sisolak urged Nevadans not to get complacent and ignore the precautions.

“We are in a very precarious position,” he said.