Carson City, Nevada — Governor Steve Sisolak announced Thursday that Nevada would reimplement restrictions on bars and restaurants in certain counties to prevent further spread of coronavirus due to what he called a "spike" in confirmed cases. "We're still watching a continued increase in confirmed and suspected COVID-19 hospitalizations," he said.
The directive is the second time Nevada has tightened restrictions since the state moved to phase two of its Roadmap to Recovery in early June, allowing businesses including bars, restaurants, casinos and hotels to reopen their doors to customers. The number of confirmed cases rose throughout the month, prompting the governor to announce a statewide mask mandate on June 24.
Under the new directive, which will begin Friday at midnight and be in effect indefinitely, bars that do not serve food will close their doors and end counter service. Restaurants will stop serving parties of six or more. Sisolak did not provide a list of counties where the directive would be in effect, but said it would definitely include Washoe and Clark County, home to Reno and Las Vegas.
Health officials say it's too early to tell if the mask mandate has effectively prevented the spread of the virus and Sisolak said the move to close bars to in-person service was prompted by reported non-compliance and conversations with federal officials about Nevada's trajectory. The officials warned that hospitals in the state could soon be overwhelmed if case totals and hospitalizations continued to increase.
"Federal representatives advised us if Nevada did not take swift policy action to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we would likely soon be in a precarious position with ourwith patients in the very near future," Sisolak said.
The coronavirus epidemic in the U.S. is still spreading, and as CBS News national correspondent David Begnaud reported Thursday, it is. The country's three biggest states — California, Florida and Texas — have all reported their highest single-day death tolls since the pandemic began this week. There are 41 states reporting increases in average new cases.
The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has made it clear that he believes the country's hardest-hit states should consider pausing plans to reopen.
"As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don't think you can say we're doing great. I mean, we're just not," Fauci told the website FiveThirtyEight this week. Asked about why some states were seeing significant spikes of COVID infections, Fauci mentioned specifically "photos of people at bars and congregations, which are a perfect setup [to spread the virus], particularly if you don't have a mask."
Compliance monitors have conducted 1,500 observations of businesses since Nevada's mask mandate went into effect and found 79% of businesses and about 50% of bars to be in compliance, Sisolak said.
Health officials have also said they're also alarmed by compliance levels in hotel pools and on casino floors, but Sisolak said he would wait for additional information before deciding whether to implement new restrictions on them.
Other states, including Florida, Texas and Arizona, have tightened restrictions on bars per the advice of federal officials, and it's easier to wear a mask on a casino floor than it is while drinking in a bar, he said.
Nevada has reported 24,904 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 571 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.