LAS VEGAS (FOX5) — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak announced the current restrictions from the statewide “pause” will extend through January 15.
Sisolak did not announce any additional restrictions on Sunday.
The governor also announced a new moratorium on most residential evictions, to begin at 12:01 a.m. on December 15 to last through March 31.
Sisolak said the state has continued to see an increase in hospitalizations, with 1,700 Nevadans in the hospital with COVID-19 on Friday. He said a Nevadan is testing positive for the virus every 40 seconds and every hour and 15 minutes, a Nevadan dies from COVID-19.
Under the state’s current restrictions, capacity in businesses is limited to 25%. Sisolak reiterated his push for Nevadans to “create a bridge” between the current situation and widespread vaccine deployment by observing basic COVID-19 health measures such as wearing a mask and avoiding gatherings.
Noting a report from the University of Washington, 74% of Nevadans always wore a mask for when they left their home as of November 30, Sisolak said. The report said if the number was 95%, the state could prevent 1,000 deaths by April 1.
“I know the mitigation restrictions in place under the current ‘pause’ are devastating to many Nevadans who just want to go back to ‘normal,'” Sisolak said. “Who are worried about their jobs, their businesses, keeping their homes, and getting their kids back to school.”
As he did at the start of the current restrictions, Sisolak again warned he would have to take “tougher actions” if the COVID-19 trends do not improve through January 15.
NEW EVICTION MORATORIUM
Sisolak reiterated on Sunday that the safest place residents can be amid the pandemic is in their homes. On Monday, he’s expected to sign a directive to place a moratorium on “most residential evictions” in Nevada.
The moratorium doesn’t relieve renters from their obligation to pay rent, he said, and that the state has already created and provided lease addendums where landlords and tenants can work on repayment together.
The moratorium will apply to tenants unable to pay rent and will not prohibit certain evictions, including lease breaches for things like unlawful activity or nuisance.
Sisolak said his COVID-19 Medical Advisory team formally recommended the moratorium to reduce increased community transmission via homelessness.
NEED FOR FEDERAL FUNDING
As of Sunday, Sisolak said the state’s rainy day fund, as well as federal support, are no more: “The state emptied its rainy day fund to address our massive budget deficit. The funding we received through the federal CARES Act is set to expire at the end of this year,” he said.
He said returning to a full shutdown wouldn’t be possible without federal resources, citing the state’s historic unemployment rates following the first shutdown.
“If we could write a check to every Nevadan right now to provide them the ability to stay home and stop the spread, I would. But we can’t,” he said.
He sought to explain why casinos, also restricted to 25% capacity, remain open while some other areas of public life are restricted.
“When I think of the gaming industry, I am not losing sleep at night because I’m worried about their stock prices or whether gaming executives are going to make it through the pandemic and be able to keep a roof over their heads,” Sisolak said. “I lose sleep at night because when we were under a stay at home order in the spring, we lost a quarter of a million jobs in three months in this state, and that’s largely due to casinos being closed for 78 days straight.”
The governor said they’re “fighting to protect” the thousands of Nevadans who work at gaming properties, saying if they take that away, “the bottom falls out for our entire state.” Sisolak said if casinos are closed, the state would lose an estimated $52 million in gaming tax revenue each month, not including room tax or live entertainment tax, which are used to fund other resources.
“It’s not lost on me that the decisions we make today and how we handle this balancing act right now will have generational impacts,” he said.
Sisolak took aim at the federal government for not helping Nevada, saying for nine months they’ve “heard that reinforcements and air cover is on the way, just hang tight,” but they “don’t see any planes flying overhead.”
“If Senator [Mitch] McConnell doesn’t think people need assistance, he has an open invitation to Nevada anytime to walk through the halls of our hospital COVID units. Visit a homeless shelter that’s full of families that had a home just months ago,” Sisolak said. “When he opposes money for state and local governments, he opposes money for food, for unemployment, for healthcare.”
“In the absence of this support,” Sisolak said the best decision for Nevada was to continue to the current restrictions.
“I believe that we can all work together to make sure we maximize the benefit of these mitigation measures,” he said.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.