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Phasing Out Phases: Nevada Governor Announces New Long-term Coronavirus Strategy

Las Vegas is located in Clark County, the most populous county in Nevada.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced a plan to do away with reopening phases.

During the Monday, July 27 press conference, Gov. Sisolak said the state will instead implement a “long-term mitigation strategy.”

This new strategy, being finalized by the Nevada Health Response Team, follows the establishment of elevated risk transmission criteria for the state’s counties. The criteria involves the review of three statistics: the average number of tests administered per day in a specific county, coupled with that county’s case and test positivity rates.

Nevada officials reviewed data that was collected over a two-week period, using the above criteria and analyzing the results according to population size. According to Gov. Sisolak, seven Nevada counties met two or more of the elevated risk transmission criteria. That led to the closure of bars, pubs, taverns and wineries in an effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading.

After the review, three counties—Humboldt, Lander and Lyon—improved enough for the above types of venues to reopen immediately, shifting to statewide operational standards: 50 percent capacity, social distancing requirements, and mandatory face coverings.

The counties of Clark, Elko, Nye and Washoe will remain under Nevada’s county-specific mitigation measures until they can show improvement. Unsurprisingly, Clark is the most populated county in Nevada, followed by Washoe. It stands to reason the most populous counties are those still at the highest risk for Covid-19 transmission.

The details of the new strategy will be revealed Monday, August 3 by Gov. Sisolak. However, during his press conference he touched upon key elements of the long-term plan that will replace the phase approach.

Updated Criteria

Gov. Sisolak announced his desire to work with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) to more effectively discover the presence of Covid-19 cases and mitigate its spread. This part of the plan includes working with DHHS to develop criteria that’s data-driven and in-depth.

The updated criteria pillar of Nevada’s long-term mitigation plan also involves developing criteria that follows overall trends so counties that are improving or worsening can be more quickly identified.


The governor is seeking the creation of a system of “mitigation” levels, the goal of which is to provide advanced notice to both residents and businesses regarding the status of the county in which they live and operate.


“To put it bluntly: the time for education is over,” said Gov. Sisolak during his press conference.

The governor’s frustration with some Nevadans—and likely tourists—who fail to comply with reduced indoor capacities, mandatory face coverings, and social distancing requirements was palpable. He stated that after five months of battling Covid-19, there is no longer room for anyone to make excuses and fail to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Stricter enforcement of Nevada’s safety rules will is a pillar of the new plan, the details of which will be shared at the start of next week. One example Gov. Sisolak shared was that a business may be shut down if unmasked patrons are served and a pattern of noncompliance is established. This includes resorts, which could see specific areas or the entire property closed for noncompliance.


Gov. Sisolak cited Nevada’s transition from statewide to county-specific mitigation efforts when explaining the targeting pillar. The goal is to get to the point where officials can drill down into specific ZIP codes or municipalities within a county that require more targeted mitigation interventions.

Going further, the governor wants to move away from targeting entire industries. Instead, he stated his desire to identify specific businesses that experience outbreaks. Gov. Sisolak stated that he believes this transition will protect businesses that are following the rules, operating responsibly to help flatten Nevada’s coronavirus curve.

He included the caveat, however, that an entire industry may be targeted if it’s determined that it represents “an incredibly high risk of spread.”

Gov. Sisolak will announce Nevada’s new long-term mitigation strategy next Monday. If it proves effective, other states may transition away from their phased approaches to reopening. Targeting specific businesses rather than entire industries could be a positive for the hospitality industry, if it’s not labeled an “incredibly” high-risk spreader of Covid-19.

Image: Pixabay via Pexels

David Klemt View All

I’ve been studying and writing about the hospitality industry since 2006. Like so many people, I started my journey in this business by working as a host, server and bartender. I was introduced to nightlife in Chicago, learning the ins and outs of nightclubs and after-hours hot spots.

After moving to Las Vegas nearly 20 years ago, I both co-owned a valet company and helped promote the club it serviced. That led to me taking on the role of editor for a Las Vegas hospitality industry publication.

A few short years later, I continued along my journey of hospitality industry reporting. I went from contributing to a major industry outlet to taking on the role of editor and content curator.

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