LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Governor Steve Sisolak is warning Nevadans that COVID-19 mitigation measures will tighten if the state does not see improvements in cases, test positivity rates and hospitalizations.
The governor said it is a priority to bring testing timelines down, catch up on contact tracing and relieve the state's healthcare system, which has been strained namely in Washoe County. He gave a two week timeline for the state to make these changes and promised harder, more "severe" restrictions if the goal is not met.
"If we don't come together in this moment, I will be forced to take stronger action in 14 days," Sisolak said during a Tuesday night press conference in Carson City.
Over the past two weeks, Nevada has had an average of 963 new cases per day with a 13.7% test positivity rate, and 898 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Tuesday. Ten of 17 Nevada counties are flagged by the state's COVID-19 Task Force for elevated risk of disease transmission.
Sisolak advised not going out to stores, restaurants or gatherings unless essential. He also advised against parties and non-essential meetings, and reminded faith leaders to follow public gathering protocols, and to prevent congregating after in-person services.
He said tourists or those wishing to come to Nevada "certainly" should, but they need to wear a mask and follow all COVID-19 protocols.
As of Tuesday, nearly 700 tourists have tested positive since June 1. Most cases were within Californians (309 cases), Arizonans (162 cases) and Texans (34 cases), totaling 691 known cases of non-Nevadans who've tested positive in the state, according to the Nevada Dept. of Health and Human Services.
The governor asked local governments and airports to step up enforcement efforts over the next two weeks to ensure that businesses and visitors are following the state's health guidelines.
Sisolak said he was confident that mitigation measures, if followed, will prevent the state from having to "turn around" and shut down again, as it did in March.
President and CEO of Renown Health Dr. Tony Slonim said during the conference on Tuesday that Renown's Reno facility is planning to open a care site in its parking lot and add an additional 1,600 beds, to accommodate the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Washoe County.
"I'm asking you to please do the right thing. Stay home, wear a mask, wash your hands," Slonim said.
The press conference is available to watch here:
McCarran International Airport provided the following response:
We welcome the governor’s efforts to encourage travelers and others at McCarran to take the steps they can to stop the spread of COVID-19. This has been our primary focus for several months.
McCarran had worked to get the messages of wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing proper hand hygiene, among others, out to our passengers and the community in a variety of ways. This includes placing signage in baggage claim and around the airport, regular overhead audio messages and weekly messages on social media.
All of these efforts were part of the “LAS All In” campaign launched in May.
Once Governor Sisolak mandated masks be worn in public places, we updated our messaging to reflect that. The day the mask mandate went into effect, we partnered with the LVCVA to pass out masks to arriving tourists.
We have continued to expand the reach of this campaign within the airport. Signage was originally placed just pre-security but has since been installed in post-security locations such as the trams and hold rooms.
Just this week we put up ads in the terminals encouraging passengers to download the state’s COVID Trace app.
We will continue to take these steps and will adjust accordingly as we all work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.