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Nevada joins Western States Pact

By Don Dike Anukam

Governor Steve Sisolak announced Monday Nevada would be joining the Western States Pact, a group of state governors working together on a coordinated plan to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and reopen their states. Governor Jared Polis joined Sisolak in the announcement, adding Colorado to the pact as well.

The pact, initiated by governors of California, Oregon and Washington, aligns states in coordination of resources, health policies, and stay-at-home orders. The three governors formed the pact April 13 in response to conflicting messages and complications in distribution of medical supplies and virus tests coming from the federal level.

“I’m honored to have the State of Nevada join the Western States Pact and believe the sharing of critical information and best practices on how to mitigate the spread, protect the health and safety of our residents,  and reopen responsibly will be invaluable as we chart our paths forward,” Sisolak said in a statement. 

“Millions of visitors from our fellow Western states travel to Nevada every year as a premier tourism destination, and this partnership will be vital to our immediate recovery and long-term economic comeback.”    

The move to add Nevada to the Pact is a pivot for the state. Last week in a press briefing Gov. Sisolak indicated that Nevada would follow guidelines issued by The White House for reopening the state.

At present, Gov. Sisolak’s business closure and shelter-in-place orders expire April 30 at midnight, however this announcement puts that date into question. And some in the state aren’t happy about that.

Reopen Nevada protesters carry signs through downtown Reno,
Reopen Nevada protesters in downtown Reno. Image: Ty O’Neil

“Despite a national media blitz spinning the contrary, Governor Sisolak has no plan for how and when he plans to reopen Nevada. Sisolak’s stay at home order runs through Thursday, yet financially stressed Nevadans that have sacrificed for weeks to protect the state’s health and security are getting nothing but silence from the governor on what he plans to actually do,” Nevada Republican Party Executive Director Jessica Hanson said in a statement.

“Whenever Sisolak finally announces if the stay at home order will be extended in the coming days, he owes Nevadans more clarity than his last appearance before local media. Last week’s press conference was such a failure, even his biggest cheerleaders were left demanding more specifics and a timeline.”

Monday’s Western States Pact announcement reiterated the foundational principles of the agreement: residents’ health first, health outcomes and science—not politics—will guide decisions, and states will only be effective by working together.

It also highlighted four goals, which include:

  • Protecting vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if infected. This includes a concerted effort to prevent and fight outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  • Ensuring an ability to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This will require adequate hospital surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment.
  • Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.
  • Protecting the general public by ensuring any successful lifting of interventions includes the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating. The states will work together to share best practices.

In the weeks leading up to this announcement, some have gathered in Carson City and Reno for “Reopen Nevada” protests emphasizing personal freedoms and the need to allow people to get back to work.

Read more news about COVID-19 in Reno

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