Nevada's COVID-19 Task Force leader Jim Murren talks about reopening Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS(FOX5)-- The chair of the Nevada's COVID-19 task force said testing will play a key role in re-opening Las Vegas and the rest of the state.

"It’s very clear that the testing capacity in this state is inadequate," Murren said in a one-on-one interview on Friday. 

Governor Sisolak said only about 400 Nevadans are being tested each day.

"That’s not because people don’t want to, it’s because we don’t have the supplies for those particular labs," said Murren. 

University Medical Center is a little better equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing thanks to a new partnership with the United Arab Emirates.

COVID-19 task force leader discusses plan to expand testing capabilities and facilities in Nevada.

"We’re so incredibly grateful for this gift we received from Abu Dhabi. It's millions of dollars worth of testing capacity that has jump started the UMC effort," said Murren. 

Murren and his team are helping to beef up the current lab at UMC and adding a second high throughput lab.

"That lab will be open source meaning it can use multiple test kits on the same platform to be able to test in an automotive way, thousands of people a day," said Murren.

They’re also working on adding one of those labs at the state lab at The University of Reno. 

"Over the next month fundraising and using international relationships, I think we can stand up at least two of these labs," said Murren. 

He wants a handful of them across the state, but its not cheap.

"These labs will cost minimally a few million dollars initially to stand up, but as much as $10M to get a full turn key lab," said Murren. 

Murren said he's working on raising another $20-30 Million. 

Staffing the new labs is another challenge.

"One thing we’ve learned is we’re dramatically under served as a state in a variety of medical professions," said Murren. 

Murren said hospitals will have to build up personnel or redeploy certain staff. 

"We need to test not 28,000 people as we have today in a population of 3.3 million, we have to test hundreds of thousands of people," said Murren. 

Murren said once testing ramps up, so will the strip. He said it will not reopen all at once. 

"I think it’s unrealistic to think we’re going to be in June where we were in January," he said. 

Murren expects a slow roll out, similar to Macau. 

"There are temperate checks at the points of entry to the resorts, people are wearing PPE, they’re wearing masks and other protective equipment. They're  social distancing in terms of spacing people on table games as well as on slot machines. Some of the venues are not open such as theaters, large concert venues, night clubs.”

Mayor Carolyn Goodman called the shutdown, "total insanity." 

“I think she’s wrong. I think science and the medical experts have to lead this way. I understand the economic tragedy," Murren said. 

Copyright 2020 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

FOX5 Multimedia Journalist

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(5) comments


Here's a thought: If Sisolak does NOT open up Vegas and get the show on the road??? He WILL be BLAMED for all deaths and the collapse of Vegas. Just like they're blaming President Trump.


WOW. What a money grab this is going to be from the taxpayers, Why so much money up front. These people cannot do the math of a laboratory operation. Who are the owners of the lab??? Is it going to be private company with an already contract? I really cannot believe they can get away with this right under our noses in plain sight.


So you test say 100,000 and find 98,000 who test positive for the virus, then what? You order them to imprison themselves at home? like you already have? for how long? 1-2-3 years until a cure comes? so 98,000 of the public must stay home for years and under what authority? and who is going to pay their bills? if everybody is sitting home washing their hands all day? or can we stop doing that in this instance? wiping our butts? and you get this testing advice from the same bunch who told not 30 days ago we would have 250,000 dead Americans with the draconian measures we now live with. We don't have 40,000 and word is, many of those didn't actually die from Coronavirus. But since the numbers are so low they are padding them to make their case.


They have never had a cure for any flu! Look how long influenza has been around. You know the one that most of the people are dying from but the pinocchio's are saying it's this new flu.

John de Robeck

protip: it's not the flu, kid.

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