Nevada is ‘not ready’ to enter Phase 3 of reopening, governor says

OwensImaging/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(CARSON CITY, Nev.) -- Nevada is "not ready" to move into the next phase of reopening due to a rise in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Steve Sisolak said.

"We're in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic, we're right dead smack in the middle of it," Sisolak told reporters at a press conference Monday. "Nevadans have made enormous sacrifices to get us to where we are today ... I don't want to let that all go for naught by us having to take a giant step backwards."

Since signing a directive in late May allowing Nevada to enter the second phase of its reopening plan, the governor said the state has experienced an "upward trend" in the number of new cases per day over the past three weeks. Although he noted that testing capacity has increased and the daily cumulative positivity rate is "holding steady or continues to decline," Sisolak said the seven-day percentage of positive results is climbing.

There has also been a "consistent increase" in hospitalizations of patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases across the Silver State since June 5 but not enough to overburden the health care system, according to Sisolak.

"We had the expectation that, as a result of reopening and an increase in testing, our positive cases were likely to increase," he told reporters. "We have seen an increase in positive cases, but that has yet to negatively impact capacity of our hospitals. We're taking this seriously as we have all along and will allow our medical experts the time to monitor and make assessments."

So far, the state has reported more than 11,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with at least 465 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest data from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

Bars, churches, gyms, movie theaters, spas, tattoo parlors and other businesses have been allowed to resume limited operations from May 29. Casinos were able to reopen on June 4 after two months of state-enforced lockdown. Other businesses, including nightclubs and adult entertainment establishments, have remained closed during the second phase of reopening.

Sisolak concluded that he will extend Phase 2.

"Before expanding our reopening and entering into Phase 3, we must continue to allow ourselves the time to evaluate this new medical information along with the impact of reopening to make sure we’re doing all we can to protect ourselves and the capacity of our health care system to respond to the virus," he added.

The governor emphasized that the timeline of reopening "will be dictated by the virus."

"We were able to enter Phase 1 and Phase 2 because Nevadans were staying home as much as possible and generally wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently and maintaining six feet of social distancing," he said. "Now is not the time to abandon these protective measures. It is the time to double down on them. We can only stay open if we stay safe."

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