LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Gov. Steve Sisolak spoke on the "reopening framework" for Nevada on Tuesday.
Announced with the plan was the decision to keep Nevada schools closed and extend distance learning through the duration of the school year.
Sisolak was joined by a panel of health experts who noted the extensive measures taken by the state to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and wearing face coverings, has resulted in a flattened curve, or slower spread, of the disease.
"We are in a better spot than we were six weeks ago," Sisolak said.
In his announcement Tuesday, Sisolak noted that saving lives and reopening the economy were not mutually exclusive. Economic recovery was "highly dependent on expanded testing and tracing capacity," he said.
Sisolak said he was proud of hotel-casino properties taking proactive steps on how they would protect their staff and guests.
On Sunday, Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox released a comprehensive 23-page plan detailing the steps he would take at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore.
Sisolak said they've seen less deaths compared to the early modeling for Nevada, and continuing to flatten the curve was priority.
"The emergency is not over yet, but it has entered a new phase," he said.
In the coming weeks, Sisolak said he will solidify plans for phase one of reopening the economy in Nevada. "Once the curve is flattened, our goal is to keep it that way," he said.
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'THINK OF THIS AS PHASE ZERO'
"Think of this as phase zero," he said. Criteria for reopening included statistical measuring of COVID-19 in the state's healthcare system and measuring the healthcare systems' capacity.
"As of right now, I can not give you a firm date of when we would begin phase one," Sisolak said. He said he would communicate updates with the public in a timely manner to prepare business reopenings.
"I'm working to update my previous directives" to meet the needs of the criteria to move into phase one, Sisolak said.
To determine whether Nevada is ready to move into the first phase of reopening, Sisolak and select Nevada experts will look at:
- A consistent and sustainable downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations over a 14-day period measured by a decrease in the trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations; and a decline in percentage of people testing positive
- Healthcare and Public Health Systems should be able to maintain hospital capacity without crisis standards of care, have a sufficient public health workforce capacity between the local and state health departments to conduct case contact tracing (detect, test, trace, isolate), have the expanded ability for healthcare providers to administer tests for symptomatic patients, and have sufficient laboratory testing capacity to process COVID-19 testing samples
- A sustained ability to protect vulnerable populations, meaning that outbreaks are successfully contained and closed in special settings like health facilities and nursing homes
- Confirm protective measures are in place before moving to the first phase
Guidance for individuals: All vulnerable individuals should continue to shelter in place and updated guidance will be released for this. Minimizing nonessential travel, meaning the travel advisory for Nevada will remain in place. Using a face covering in public will still be urged of individuals.
Gatherings of 10 or more would also be affected in phase one, Sisolak said, and bars would remain closed.
Guidance was also provided for employees and specific employers including businesses and events previously canceled due to the state of emergency. Employers should encourage working from home and bringing employees back to work in phases.
While reopening large venues, restaurants, movies, gyms, places of worship, and resuming elective surgeries are part of the White House recommendations to reopen, Sisolak said casinos are still “under review” in Nevada.
SCHOOLS TO STAY CLOSED
Sisolak announced distance learning will remain in place. "In line with the federal recommendations, I have made the decision for schools to continue distance learning for the rest of the school year," he said.
The Nevada Department of Education said they worked with Sisolak and the U.S. Department of Education to "provide flexibility to districts and schools, including through waivers of federal and State assessment requirements and guidance to ensure that high school seniors can graduate on-time."
“Though students will not be returning to school campuses, school is not over for the year,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert. “This announcement encourages us to double down on our efforts to strengthen our delivery of distance education and promote equitable access to resources for all learners.”
When asked what would need to happen for schools to reopen, Sisolak said they were focusing on phase one.
"I don't want to give phase two and three much thought while we're working on phase one," Sisolak said.
The Clark County School District said following the governor's announcement, it will continue to implement distance education for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This will also include food distribution, professional learning, and device deployment.
"Details on the plan to close out the school year will be shared with the School Board of Trustees at the next scheduled meeting Thursday, April 23," CCSD said in a statement.
PUSH-BACK FROM MAYOR
Last week, Sisolak said he was putting "lives before dollars" as it relates to the timeline of reopening Nevada and would rely on the advice of medical experts before making any moves.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman called the shutdown "total insanity" during a City Council meeting last week. Goodman appeared on Fox News Channel Tuesday morning to speak on the city's closures.
"The reality is we’ve grown to be so successful because we have been so hygienically focused. People wouldn’t go to our restaurants and hotel rooms and large gatherings if we weren’t already successful in what we’re doing. At this point though, nobody can be assured that tomorrow or in four months they haven’t contracted the disease. So the reality is we have to go forward assuming we’re all carriers and how do we prepare best," Goodman said.