Lack of mask-wearing in Las Vegas will slow reopening process, says Clark County chairwoman

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LAS VEGAS – Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick won’t let more businesses reopen until Nevadans take wearing face coverings seriously. 

“It is super stressful right now, because everybody and anybody thinks they should be open,” Kirkpatrick said at a commission meeting Tuesday morning. “Everybody thinks they don’t have to follow the rules, and constituents are getting complacent with the new norm, which they’re not practicing.”

Nevada reported its single highest increase in new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, adding 379 new cases to the state’s tally. The previous single-day jump happened on May 22, when 295 new cases surfaced.  

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As of noon Tuesday, the statewide total for COVID-19 cases was 11,658 with 467 deaths, according to the Nevada Health Alliance dashboard.

Those 379 new cases come from a pool of 6,301 tests performed on Monday, making for a growth rate of 3.4 percent — the highest single-day growth rate recorded since May 22.

The increase in cases is likely tied to Memorial Day weekend gatherings where social distancing rules were ignored and masks were left at home.

“Think about where people went, what they did,” Kirkpatrick said. “Everybody was excited to have tons of friends around.”

Kirkpatrick pleaded for Nevadans to social distance and wear face coverings.

“We need help having people take it seriously,” Kirkpatrick said. “If I can only find a grocery store that’ll follow the damn regulations, it’d be great. I’d like to close them all down at this point. It’s disappointing.”

Kirkpatrick shared a Monday night anecdote about a visit to a Burlington Coat Factory.

“One out of five people were wearing a mask,” she said. “Everybody brought their entire family, who also had no masks, there was no social distancing, and I couldn’t believe it was happening, and I had to beg for sanitizer for the shopping cart.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced he is planning on extending the second phase of his plan to reopen businesses through the end of the month. 

“We are not ready to go into Phase 3,” Sisolak said when asked when the state would launch the next phase of the reopening plan. “The timeline will be dictated by the virus.” 

Sisolak acknowledged there has been an uptick in new cases and hospitalizations since June 5, as well as an increase in testing.

Ignoring safety regulations in the time of COVID-19 could reverse the state’s reopening progress, Kirkpatrick said.

“In order to stay open, we have to stay safe,” she said. “I’m not opening one more thing until people get compliant. Bottom line.”

Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here

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