LAS VEGAS — Hair salon and barber shop owners, an events company, a physician and a man who wants to treat his COVID-19 with malaria drugs touted by President Donald Trump are suing the governor of Nevada over stay-at-home and other orders he issued in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Aides to Gov. Steve Sisolak and state Attorney General Aaron Ford did not immediately respond Friday to emails about the civil lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
It seeks a court order to lift closure orders. It accuses the governor, a Democrat, of abusing administrative power and violating U.S. and state constitutional rights to worship and commerce with his emergency declaration in March and subsequent orders closing places where people congregate, including businesses deemed “non-essential” and casinos.
State unemployment programs were overwhelmed, the lawsuit says, because the governor “grossly neglected to ensure that Nevadans have financial benefits to sustain the arbitrary and capricious closures of Nevada businesses, leaving them financially devastated and hungry, and robbing them of their dignity.”
Plaintiffs led by Capelli Milano, a hair salon in Las Vegas, and Orion Star Events also name as defendants Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, head of the powerful elected body that governs the Las Vegas Strip, the state’s chief medical officer, and officials with various state agencies, including emergency management and unemployment.
Governors in several U.S. states, including Arizona, Wisconsin, Washington, Illinois and Maryland, have been targeted with lawsuits challenging their decisions to close businesses and limit travel.
Attorney Sigal Chattah argues in the Nevada lawsuit that “police power” in states is “not without constitutional limits.”
The document says plaintiff Keith Matthews of Reno tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, but has been prevented by a Sisolak emergency regulation from receiving the drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. The lawsuit dubs the medications “approved treatment.”
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned doctors last month against prescribing the drugs, which are related, except in hospitals and research studies. In an alert, regulators flagged reports of sometimes fatal heart side effects among coronavirus patients taking them.
Trump has regularly promoted the malaria drugs in public appearances, touting them a “game changer” but with little evidence. His health advisors have told him the drugs’ effect treating COVID-19 is unproven.
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