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Clark County bars to remain closed due to COVID-19

Bars, taverns and other drinking establishments in Clark, Nye, Washoe and Elko counties will remain closed for at least another week in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19 but will reopen in three other counties where infection trends have improved, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday, July 27..

The announcement comes a little over two weeks after Sisolak ordered bars in the seven counties closed to help stop the spread of the virus. Sisolak said during a news conference Monday in Carson City that three of those counties — Lyon, Lander and Humboldt — can open those establishments immediately after showing enough improvement in specific criteria. Those bars, like other businesses, will be able to reopen at 50 percent capacity.

“Recently, we’ve started to see some positive signs in our data, including a potential slow and gradual flattening out in both cases and hospitalizations,” Sisolak said. “We believe this progress is a result of the previous mitigation measures we have put in place, like mandatory face coverings.”

But Sisolak added that it is too early to say if those positive movements are part of a larger trend or “just a small blip.”

The governor also said that the state will shift away from its phased reopening plan that focused on reopening specific industries at various stages. Sisolak said that in hindsight, that plan may not have been “the fairest way to do it,” noting that it forced businesses to close even if they were stringent in following his directives.

Instead, the state will move to a “targeting” approach that will focus on enforcement at specific businesses that are experiencing outbreaks or those that are failing to follow mitigation measures such as the state’s mask mandate, as well as focusing on specific areas, such as cities or even certain ZIP codes that are seeing spikes.

“I believe that most of our businesses and communities have made great efforts to be as safe as they can, and targeting problematic areas will help protect the good actors,” Sisolak said.

The state’s new approach will see increased enforcement against businesses that aren’t following the mitigation mandates, such as serving customers who aren’t wearing masks or following social distancing standards.

“We are close to five months in. No more excuses. If people aren’t following the rules to keep us safe, there needs to be consequences,” Sisolak said.

It will also include more regular updates on the trend in COVID-19 data, developing more in-depth data criteria that more closely follows overall trends and that isn’t thrown off as much by day-to-day or week-to-week fluctuations, which Sisolak said proved to be a problem with the current criteria standards, especially in the rural counties.

The goal, Sisolak said, is to give the public and businesses additional notice and understanding on how their counties are trending in relation to the coronavirus in hopes of creating more predictability for the state’s response.

The state’s COVID-19 response team will be working over the next week to finalize a “long-term mitigation strategy” for Nevada, which will be rolled out in detail next Monday, Sisolak said.

A newly formed advisory group, led by the state’s COVID-19 response director Caleb Cage, will review the data, criteria and progress each week and work with county officials on enhancement enforcement and focused targeting.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter. Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at Review-Journal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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