Sisolak: When Nevada’s economy re-opens, it won’t be ‘a light switch’
CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Steve Sisolak made it clear on Thursday that, when Nevada re-opens its businesses, “it won’t be like switching on a light switch.”
“As I’ve said all along, it would be in a very gradual manner,” he said at an afternoon press conference from the Capitol. “The reopening plan has to be thoughtfully constructed and well-vetted.”
The Democratic governor said Nevada is doing very well in controlling the spread of the virus, in large part because people in the state are taking the social distancing and stay-at-home orders seriously.
“It is helping, it is saving lives,” he said.
Also speaking at the press conference Thursday, Dr. Mark Pandori, head of the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory at University of Nevada, Reno, said his crew is working to dramatically expand testing for the virus because, he said, “testing might be the most important weapon we’ve got.”
Pandori said plays a critical role in not only finding out who is sick but providing critical intelligence to track the disease and get beyond just finding those who are sick. He said that is critical to “finding out where the enemy is, finding out how much risk is out there.”
It’s a matter, he said, of letting his lab concentrate more on public health testing instead of just illness testing.
He said his staff and UNR officials are working to use 3-D printing to create the swabs needed for that testing and making the test kits that have become hard to find. As a result, he said Nevada is moving forward toward being able to re-open the state economy.
The step after that, Pandori said, will be the process of testing to determine who has had the virus and recovered and whether the antibodies in their blood render them immune to re-infection by the virus.
“The question is whether you will stay immune to this infection,” he said.
Sisolak said he will base his decisions on when and how quickly to re-open Nevada businesses, schools and everything else on the advice he receives from Pandori and other experts.
“Some people were more concerned with the business side of this than the human toll this virus is taking,” he said.
He said he is talking with business leaders and others, but that, “when the experts tell me it’s OK to open, then we’ll do it.”
The state Department of Health and Human Service’s website as of Friday morning listed 137 deaths and reported that more than 3,320 people statewide have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 respiratory illness.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.