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Business & Industry director urges compliance as COVID-19 situation worsens

By Sudhiti Naskar
a hairdresser dries a client's hair while wearing a mask

Nevada Department of Business & Industry Director Terry Reynolds recommended that people wear masks during a statewide COVID-19 update on Monday. He also urged people to follow other safety measures such as hand washing and social distancing, “not only within your office but outside the office” at all times so that workers can gather and meet with their coworkers without putting themselves in harm’s way.

Nevada has three major industries besides tourism and service–construction, mining and manufacturing–which all needed to function throughout the ongoing pandemic. Typically, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one of the main wings of B&I, works with such businesses for compliance and training. OSHA also acts on complaints from employees and private citizens about a business not following protocols.

OSHA worked “very hard” to ensure safety of these businesses as they needed to stay open, said Reynolds. OSHA also worked with the building associations, financial institutions such as banks, labor associations, Uber and Lyft, Reynolds added.

Since mid-June OSHA has also conducted observations at businesses across the state to determine compliance with Governor Steve Sisolak’s Emergency Directive 024 requiring face masks and Nevada OSHA’s Guidance for Roadmap to Recovery. 

OSHA received nearly 5,000 complaints. These initiated 10,000 business inspections finding an 89% statewide compliance rate, and 91% compliance in northern Nevada. Last week officials conducted 251 initial visits observing only one business, a restaurant in Sparks, out of compliance, according to a statement from B&I.

Follow-up visits found a 97% compliance rate in northern Nevada.

Complaints were lodged against a variety of businesses including 28% for general retail, 17% for restaurants and bars, 8% for medical facilities, 6% for casinos and gaming locales, and about 5% for grocery stores.

Information on how much the businesses compiled with the rules, or not, can be found in the OSHA dashboard.

A Toda Madre Tattoos on South Wells Avenue pasted safety guidelines on their front door. Image: Bianca Wright

What makes OSHA pay a visit? 

The updated OSHA enforcement processes dated Nov. 2, for the pandemic, says that OSHA may make unannounced visits to businesses to check compliance of COVID-19 related regulations in counties that meet at least two criteria for elevated disease. 

The criteria are:

  1. Average number of tests per day (per 100,000) < 100 
  2. Cases (per 100,000) > 200 
  3. Cases (per 100,000) > 50 AND testing positivity > 8.0%

The unannounced visits are meant to observe compliance with posting of signs that indicate the capacity within a business premises, face coverings, social distancing, sanitation, and other requirements per the governor’s directives.

“If violations are noted, OSHA will open an investigation with the employer, which may lead to a citation,” said the updated safety protocol.

“We must follow processes outlined in Nevada Administrative Code to respond to statutory complaints,” said Reynolds.

In addition to observation visits by OSHA, Reno businesses are also under the City’s watch. And despite new restrictions beginning Tuesday per the governor’s Sunday evening press conference, city officials said they’ll keep the same process for compliance inspections and citations.

“Businesses have been very compliant,” said City of Reno Public Information Officer Jon Humbert. “We know that the better we all do at being safe, the quicker things can return to normal.”

COVID-19 county reports

Reynolds was joined by the COVID-19 Response Director Caleb Cage and Julia Peek, Deputy Administrator of Community Health Services, who updated Nevadans on the county level COVID-19 data.

Cage said that the county tracker has now flagged 13 counties out of 17, for elevated level of disease transmission.

  • Washoe has been flagged for 9 consecutive weeks
  • Lyon for seven weeks
  • Clark, Elko and Lincoln for six weeks
  • Carson City and Nye for five weeks
  • Douglas County for four weeks
  • Churchill and Eureka counties for three weeks
  • Esmeralda, Humboldt and Lander counties for two weeks

All the flagged counties met the criteria of a high case rate per 100,000. All counties had a high test positivity rate, Cage said.

As of today, Nevada has recorded 136,227 cases, an increase of 2,339 new cases since yesterday. Washoe County announced 397 new cases and five additional deaths today.

The state has completed a total of 1,536,076 molecular tests since the beginning of COVID-19, stated a press release from the task force. Cases are growing at a rate of 1.6% or 2,019 new cases per day, for the most recent seven-day period.

Lincoln had a low average number of tests per day per 100,000 population.

The test positivity rate over the last 14 days is 16.7%.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are currently at 1,274 (1174 confirmed; 100 suspected). More information on hospitalization trends can be found on the Nevada Hospital Association website.

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