Sisolak declares state of emergency, says ‘we are looking at all options’

Calls lack of information from Trump administration ‘infuriating’

break glass
Gov. Steve Sisolak declares a COVID-19 state of emergency Thursday. (Photo: Michael Lyle)

In order to take further precautions following 11 presumptive and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak declared a state of emergency Thursday as a way to help the state better respond.

The governor stressed while it was a serious step, the declaration doesn’t mean there is a reason to panic.

“This declaration is the first step to opening up access to our state’s emergency resources and it helps the state of Nevada loosen up the regulatory environment, fostering continued and stronger coordination with the state and local government agencies and allowing us to maximize our collaboration and avoid duplication of efforts,” Sisolak said. “This emergency declaration also orders the activation of the state emergency operation center and Nevada health response team, which will be leading the fight against COVID-19, exploring ways to mitigate the impacts to our state and our citizens.”

Sisolak also announced creation of a centralized hub for all information related to COVID-19, including the number of tests that have been administered in the state — information that has not been evenly reported throughout the state thus far.

During the press conference, Sisolak also expressed frustration with the federal response to the pandemic.

“The lack of communication or misinformation being communicated or not being communicated from federal agencies is infuriating,” he said. “But I am working with our federal delegation to try to get answers.”

While concerned about the potential economic downturn, Sisolak expressed confidence that the state will be able to weather the storm. “I’m extremely concerned about hourly employees working at these properties as business slows down and they have a lack of hours,” he said. “We are working hand and glove with our resort partners to get them covered.”

When asked if that means extending unemployment benefits, he didn’t specify.

“We are looking at all options that are available to us and what’s on the table,” he said. “I don’t want to get into hypotheticals right now, but that’s something we’re looking at.”

With reduced hours and loss of revenue, many workers are one paycheck away from not making rent, which could easily lead to being evicted. Some cities such as Miami, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. have issued moratoriums on evictions to ensure people stay in their homes.

“That is another one of the issues we are looking at moving forward,” Sisolak said. “We are exploring all options so that we can protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

Sisolak also said he was in contact with the school districts while they develop response plans such as canceling school events or increasing cleanings. In some states and cities, schools have been shutdown altogether with more places signaling they will follow suit.

School districts, he said, should take the course of action that fits their community specifically.

“There is no one-size-fits all approach to how we can address this issue,” he added. “All options are on the table.”

Other states, such as California and Washington, have announced they will be limiting larger public gatherings — usually anything more than 250 people. Though Sisolak agreed Nevada needs to address what to do about mass gatherings and events, he wasn’t going to “arbitrarily pick a number out of a hat” when it comes to limiting them.

“There are no immediate plans to shut anything down,” he added. “We are in constant contact with resort operators, and they are making individual decisions.”

On Wednesday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the media’s coverage was destroying Las Vegas. While he didn’t reference the comment directly, Sisolak took time to thank reporters at the press conference.

“I appreciate the media being our partners in this,” Sisolak said. “It’s extremely important that accurate information be sent out to our communities and they understand what’s going on. I considering them partners in this situation.”

The governor also announced a new state Department of Health and Human Services website created to share COVID-19 updates and information about resources.

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.