Posted on: May 8, 2022, 02:12h. 

Last updated on: May 8, 2022, 04:41h.

Nevada’s state of emergency, which gave officials beefed-up powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic at gaming properties and elsewhere, is coming to an end. It will officially stop on May 20 after 26 months.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, pictured above. Later this month, his emergency powers, which gave him increased authority to address the COVID-19 pandemic, will come to an end. (Image: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, announced the move on Friday. The declaration was put into effect in March 2020.

As a result, non-essential businesses, including casinos, were closed for almost three months — or longer — in Nevada.

The COVID-19 pandemic tried and tested our State on every level,” Sisolak said in a statement which announced the cessation of the powers. During the pandemic, Nevada was able to prevent its healthcare system from getting overwhelmed and provided needed services, he added.

There were all sorts of restrictions in place as casinos began to reopen in June of 2020 after 11 weeks of closures. Beyond masks, there were extensive capacity limits and health safeguards on casino floors. Almost all live shows were eliminated until the vaccines became widely available.

Deaths, Vaccines

As of April 29, Nevada saw 10,780 cumulative deaths from the pandemic. The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases totaled 665,094. There are still threats from such coronavirus variants, such as omicron.

Many of the state’s residents got vaccinated against the deadly virus. But as of last month, only 14.48 percent of Nevada residents got both doses of the vaccine, as well as the first booster shot, according to state health officials.

Over 2 million Nevadans got at least one dose of the vaccine. More than 1.7 million got the first and second doses. Also, 817,676 received the first booster shot and the earlier doses.

In Friday’s statement, Sisolak noted that emergency measures which waived select licensing requirements for some health care workers, remain in place. They govern nursing, EMT, and medical staff.

UNLV Medical School Dean Marc Kahn praised the approach in a statement to KVVU, a local TV station.

“The governor is still going to allow for licensing and more rapid licensing of healthcare professionals that we really need in our state,” Kahn said. “This is forward thinking, hopefully we’re going to learn from the pandemic and moving forward we’ll be able to do things quickly to keep the population safe.”

Sisolak’s Critics

But many Republicans and other state leaders criticized either the emergency order, the length of the mask mandate, or the progress in reopening the economy.

For instance, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, an independent, criticized the governor’s sole power to shut down casinos and other businesses.

“There is apparently no sunset on emergency powers bestowed to some governors, which smacks of tyranny,” she said in a 2021 tweet.

In 2020, Goodman further called Sisolak a “dictator,” and predicted his policies would be “crushing to the city.” He “completely” shut “down our beloved Las Vegas — its hotels, its businesses, and its schools,” she charged.

In February, Nevada Republican leaders claimed Sisolak abused his emergency powers. They wanted people to decide for themselves about the wearing of masks.

It was not until February that Sisolak lifted the mandate that required the wearing of face masks while inside all public spaces across Nevada.