If you find yourself in a Las Vegas casino later this week, when Thursday night turns into Friday morning, you better have something other than Lady Luck with you. You better have a mask.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday signed an executive order that reinstated the indoor public mask mandate in counties deemed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have “substantial or high” transmission rates of COVID-19. The mandate covers all individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated.
In a statement, Nevada Health Response said Sisolak instituted a “three-day grace period” to give individuals and businesses time to prepare.
Businesses and residents in counties with substantial or high transmission are strongly urged to adopt the changes as soon as possible,” the statement read.
No other restrictions, such as social distancing, reduced capacity, or business closures, are being implemented with the order.
Masks Back After Two Months
Sisolak’s order came in response to the CDC’s guideline revision on who should wear a facial covering.
The CDC made its announcement citing new evidence regarding the delta variant of COVID-19. Health experts say the variant is more than twice as transmissible as the original COVID-19 strain that started the pandemic nearly 17 months ago.
The new state order comes nearly two months to the day that coronavirus requirements regarding masks – with certain exceptions – and social distancing went away in Clark County. County officials on June 1 recommended the CDC’s position that unvaccinated wear masks until they became fully vaccinated. However, with no enforcement, the vaccinated and unvaccinated comingled maskless. Not coincidentally, the number of local cases soon began to rise.
To better contain the coronavirus, last week the Clark County Commission voted unanimously to require workers – regardless of their vaccination status – to wear masks anytime they were in large, public indoor areas.
Sisolak Order Affects Clark County, 11 Others
According to the CDC, counties are considered to have a high level of transmission if they have either 100 or more new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days or a positivity rate of 10 percent or greater over the last seven days. Counties with substantial transmission rates have 50 or more new cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days or a positivity rate of at least 8 percent.
A dozen of the state’s 17 counties or jurisdictions currently meet the high threshold. Those are Carson City, Churchill County, Clark County, Douglas County, Elko County, Esmerelda County, Lincoln County, Lyon County, Mineral County, Nye County, Washoe County, and White Pine County. Anyone who enters an indoor public area in one of those counties must wear a mask.
Clark County, the state’s most populous county, currently has the state’s highest case rate at 235.9 cases per 100,000 people over the last seven days. That indicator has risen by 16.2 percent over the last week. Hospital admissions are up by 17.2 percent over the same timeframe in the county, and the CDC reports that a larger share of hospital beds and intensive-care beds are also being taken up by COVID-19 patients.
Statistics from the Southern Nevada Health District continue to show that adults between the ages of 18 and 49 account for a majority of the new cases.
Similar to what it did to licensees in Clark County after the commissioners’ decision last week, the Nevada Gaming Control Board sent a notice to all licensees after Sisolak issued his order Tuesday.
The NGCB reminded licensees that they must have signage posted throughout their facilities that inform their patrons where masks are required.
CDC Stresses Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines
In its new guidance, the CDC reaffirms that the vaccines currently available in the US are the most effective means to controlling COVID-19. However, as of Tuesday, 57.6 percent of the eligible population are fully vaccinated, and two-thirds of Americans 12 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Nevada, though, lags as just 47.2 percent are fully vaccinated, and 56.6 percent have received at least one dose.
Scientists and health experts say the COVID-19 vaccines prevent hospitalizations, serious illness, and deaths from occurring. That does not necessarily mean vaccinated people will not catch the virus. A small amount of so-called “breakthrough” cases have been reported, and in the vast majority of those cases, individuals have reported few symptoms or were asymptomatic. However, the CDC said those will continue to be a possibility as long the virus remains transmissible.
That’s part of the reason for recommending masks for all in the highest risk areas.
“Emerging evidence suggests that fully vaccinated persons who do become infected with the delta variant are at risk for transmitting it to others,” the CDC said in its guidance.
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