Sisolak threatens stricter measures to keep Nevadans at home

Warns against gatherings for Easter holiday

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Gov. Steve Sisolak removes his protective face covering before a making remarks on YouTube Monday night.

Gov. Steve Sisolak says he may “tighten the faucet” and impose stricter social distancing requirements for Nevadans, but wouldn’t say what that would entail. 

“If we get to that later in the week you’re going to see what stricter enforcement looks like,” Sisolak said at a news conference Monday evening.  

“My wife and I have been invited to several Easter dinners,” Sisolak said. “This is not the time to have people over for Easter dinner.”   

Sisolak bemoaned the failure of the federal government to deliver test kits, as repeatedly promised by President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence.

The federal government has provided no complete testing kits for COVID-19, according to Sisolak.  

The Trump administration has sent 3,000 “reagent kits,” which contain the chemicals needed to process tests, and 4,000 test swabs.  

Dr. Mark Pandori, director of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory, is exploring options to assemble more kits in the absence of federal assistance, Sisolak says.  

Sisolak says while the state appreciates the components of the test kits, they “are not nearly enough.” 

“Until we can widely expand testing throughout Nevada, it remains absolutely critical that we all continue to stay home for Nevada and practice strict social distancing,” said Sisolak, who abandoned his recent practice of holding tele-news conferences in favor of a live appearance before reporters in Las Vegas.

The governor, who entered the news conference wearing a mask, instructed Nevadans to wear a cloth facial covering when in public and “in interactive spaces.” 

Sisolak says the state has distributed more than one million pieces of personal protective equipment to hospitals, not including privately donated equipment, which has yet to be distributed by the National Guard.  

Sisolak reported that 61 percent of licensed and staffed hospital beds in the state are in use.  About three-quarters of the state’s intensive care beds are occupied and 44 percent of the state’s ventilators are in use.  

The state requested 450 additional ventilators from FEMA, according to Sisolak, who says he’s been told to expect the equipment 72 hours before the expected surge of COVID-19 patients in need of help breathing.  

Sisolak declined to speculate on when the surge might come.

“I’ve seen April 10th, 12th, to the middle of June,” he said. “I’m not going to get in the forecasting business of when we’ll hit our peak or when we’ll plateau.”

National Guard adjutant general Ondra Berry announced he’s “activated 100 soldiers and airmen throughout the state.”  

“This is not martial law, he said. “We are Nevadans helping Nevadans.”  

Sisolak once again acknowledged the inability of thousands of laid-off Nevadans to file claims for benefits. 

“I can tell you I’m aware of the frustration,” he said. “I know for every person, if you’re the one who can’t get through, it’s a problem.” 

Sisolak says the state has processed “nearly a quarter of a million” claims.

“DETR (Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation) has never received the funding it should have received.”  

“I encourage everyone to keep trying to be as patient as you can,” he said. “There’s just not enough access to this many calls we are getting.” 

Dana Gentry
Reporter | Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, a grandson, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.