COVID-19 Face Masks Return to Las Vegas under Mandatory State Orders

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It was nice while it lasted, but the days of not having to wear face masks are coming to an end. Around the world, countries and local governments have been bringing back the dreaded masks as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Nevada is the latest to join them, with Governor Steve Sisolak handing down an order yesterday that makes face masks obligatory in 12 of Nevada’s 17 counties. This includes Clark County, the home of Las Vegas.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It seemed like the COVID-19 pandemic was beaten when health restrictions started to be removed a couple of months ago. By June, virtually all of the restrictions were lifted as more vaccinations were being distributed. However, the ability to walk freely and unencumbered now seems to have been just a short-lived dream. According to The Nevada Independent, face masks will have to be worn by everyone in indoor settings in 12 Nevada counties, regardless of whether or not those individuals have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

The change comes following a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that face masks be worn indoors. Although the recommendation wasn’t an order, Governor Sisolak’s removal of COVID-19 restrictions in May included a caveat that stipulated that the state would translate the CDC’s recommendations into commands. Per the latest guidance, all persons “shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering in a manner consistent with the guidance issued by the CDC, and any subsequent guidance issued by the CDC,” according to the governor’s directive. Counties covered by the new order were given three days to comply.

The counties of Carson, Churchill, Clark, Douglas, Elko, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Washoe and White Pine will now be required to enforce the use of face masks by anyone in indoor spaces. This includes virtually all locations and facilities, but some exceptions have been made. Certain events, including some sports events, won’t have to abide by the rule. Casinos, however, will, as the Nevada Gaming Control Board has told operators that the new guidance includes them. The Clark County Commission voted last week to require all employees in the county to wear a face mask, even if they had already received the vaccine.

The CDC wants all unvaccinated individuals to wear face masks. Because of this, and because of the language in Governor Sisolak’s orders, unvaccinated people in Nevada’s other five counties — Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Pershing and Storey — will be required to cover up. Those who have received the vaccination, however, can go without one if they choose.

Clark County is the epicenter of the new COVID-19 outbreak. According to state figures, 914 new cases, on average, have been reported daily over the past week. 1,143 have ended up in the hospital, close to the highest number recorded during the summer of last year. However, state residents are reportedly unenthusiastic about receiving the vaccine, with only 39% of county residents having received their shots. Nevada is ranked 35 in the country among all states and their vaccination efforts.

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