LAS VEGAS — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s news conference on the state’s continued emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic was derailed.
By the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sisolak canceled the news conference set for Tuesday night after learning he potentially had been exposed to the disease last week.
Sisolak said he was canceling the news conference “out of an abundance of caution” and instead planned to release a recorded video message later Tuesday night from the governor’s mansion offering details on his plans.
Sisolak said he learned Tuesday that a work place he visited last week has since had a worker test positive for COVID-19. The worker was not in the building at the time of Sisolak’s visit and the governor has shown no symptoms of the virus in the five days since his potential exposure.
Sisolak said he planned to take a test for the virus this morning and would release the results when he has them.
Earlier Tuesday, Nevada gambling regulators said they may require the state’s shuttered casinos to test all front-line resort workers for COVID-19, plan to isolate infected visitors and take other steps to slow the coronavirus spread before they can reopen.
Sisolak was expected to announce more details of Nevada’s reopening — including whether a June 4 target date for casinos remains realistic — at the news conference. It’s unclear what message Sisolak was providing in his recorded message, which had not aired prior to the deadline for this week’s edition of the Laughlin Nevada Times.
However, the Nevada Gaming
Control Board did send a message, albeit a mixed one, to management, staff and patrons of Nevada’s gambling establishments and resorts.
“This agency, our health officials, the governor. We’re all concerned with the safety of employees, all the visitors, all the guests — the folks that have potentially contracted” COVID-19, state Gaming Control Board Member Phil Katsaros said near the end of a nearly three-hour rule-making workshop. “That’s why we’re here. That’s why we shut down a multibillion-dollar economy.”
Nevada health officials reported the number of COVID-19 tests administered statewide at nearly 143,000 and the number of confirmed cases at almost 8,000, with at least 396 deaths.
University Medical Center chief executive Mason Van Houweling said the percentage of positives among those tested in Nevada, now 5.6%, is well below the World Health Organization recommendation of 10% and less than half the April 23 peak of 12.2%.
“I can firmly say that anybody that wants a test or requires a test has availability to get a test in the state,” the head of Nevada’s only public hospital said. He and Dr. Anthony Slonim, head of Renown Health in Reno said hospitals are not close to capacity in room use, intensive care beds or ventilators needed.
Gaming Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan promised what she called a final “industry notice” today with rules for casinos to reopen. That would give the state’s nearly 460 top-level gambling license holders the seven-plus days’ notice the board promised for enacting plans to sanitize surfaces, keep gamblers safe distances apart and protect workers.
“We’re still in the response phase and we all know that,” Morgan said. “We’re finding a way to get to the recovery phase.”
Culinary workers’ union executive Geoconda Argüello-Kline termed the board’s decisions “life or death” for tens of thousands of workers who clean hotel rooms, serve cocktails and come in direct contact with tourists.
“When we reopen the casinos, guests from all over the country, perhaps all over the world, will come,” Argüello-Kline said in a statement to the board. “What happens if someone who arrives in Vegas asymptomatic develops symptoms here and decides to hole up in their room for a couple of days instead of asking for medical attention?”
Van Houweling said about 10 hotel properties in the Las Vegas area “have agreed to accept positive guests for lodging services.” He did not name them.