Video of an empty downtown Reno March 29, 2020. Reno Gazette Journal
Gov. Steve Sisolak said Wednesday he is eager to reopen businesses in Las Vegas but emphasized the importance of adhering to public health protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sisolak emphasized he is working with state health officials and scientists to ensure residents and tourists are safe from the viral outbreak.
“I am not going to allow our workers to be put in a position that they have to decide between their job, their paycheck, and their life,” Sisolak said in the interview with CNN. “That’s not a fair position to put them in, and I will not allow that to happen.”
Sisolak’s comments were in response to Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s statements in an earlier interview on CNN.
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Goodman told Cooper she wanted workers to get back to work, despite the rising number of positive cases and deaths throughout the state — most of which are in Clark County.
The two clashed during the interview over the topic of reopening the Las Vegas Strip. At one point, Cooper displayed a diagram that showed how the coronavirus could spread in a restaurant in China.
“This isn’t China, this is Las Vegas, Nevada,” Goodman said in response to the diagram.
Cooper then described Goodman’s statement as “really ignorant.”
Sisolak said most Nevadans have been following protocols by wearing facial coverings and practicing social distancing. Still, he emphasized it is difficult to promote steps to ensure the public’s safety when “we get one person that’s kind of leading people astray.”
He went on to say he felt disappointed in Goodman’s statements.
“We want to welcome everybody back to Las Vegas,” Sisolak said Wednesday. “We want to welcome them back to the lights on the strip, but that’s not today and that’s not tomorrow.”
Sisolak told Cooper that the state needs a phased approach and that he is looking at “certain criteria” before lifting the state shutdown. That includes looking at hospitalization rates, ventilator usage, and percent of positive cases.
At a news conference in Carson City, Sisolak laid out several virus testing and containment benchmarks that must be met before allowing certain operations to gradually open their doors.
On Wednesday, Sisolak told reporters that the state needs to meet four requirements to reopen. That includes having a downward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for at least two weeks.
Sisolak emphasized that hospitals must continue to run smoothly and that certain steps must be taken to protect vulnerable populations from the virus.
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Nevadans must also continue to follow virus-prevention protocols, including social distancing. He said residents may even be subject to stricter guidance on wearing faces masks in public.
“It’s important that we protect the health and the future and the wellbeing of our citizens,” Sisolak said. “We can rebuild our economy. We will rebuild our economy. Las Vegas will continue to thrive, but I can’t do that if we lose more people.”
Marcella Corona is a breaking news reporter who covers crime and justice in Northern Nevada. Support her work by subscribing to RGJ.com.
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