Governor Sisolak and Local and State Health Partners Brief Public on Efforts Related to COVID-19

LAS VEGAS, NV - February 28, 2020

Today, Governor Steve Sisolak held a briefing and a press conference with local, state, federal, and tribal partners to provide information about monitoring and preparedness efforts related to COVID-19, also known as the 2019 novel coronavirus.

“I am pleased that we were able to provide a comprehensive briefing to the public related to the significant collaboration taking place all across the State to prepare and protect the health and safety of Nevadans,” Governor Steve Sisolak said. “Communication, knowledge, and transparency are key in this evolving situation, and we will be working diligently to ensure that accurate and relevant information continues to be shared with the public.”

The following individuals spoke after Governor Sisolak at the press conference:

Melissa Peek-Bullock, State Epidemiologist, Nevada Department of Health and Human Services
Dr. Mark Pandori, Director, Nevada State Public Health Lab
Dr. Fermin Leguen, Acting District Health Officer, Southern Nevada Health District
Dr. John Novak, Chair, Washoe County Board of Health
George Togliatti, Director, Nevada Department of Public Safety (DPS)
Richard Whitley, Director, Department of Health and Human Services

The Governor’s prepared remarks are as follows:

Thank you all for being here today. I’d first like to acknowledge all the local, state, federal, and tribal partners for diligently monitoring, collaborating, and informing the public about updates related to COVID-19, also known as the 2019 novel coronavirus.

And while it might take a couple of minutes, I think it’s important to personally acknowledge each and every one of our government and health partner leaders who've come together today.

  • Attorney General Aaron Ford
  • Speaker Jason Frierson
  • Senator Chris Brooks, representing the Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro
  • Senator Joe Hardy, representing the Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer
  • Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Chair of the Clark County Commission & Vice Chair of the Southern Nevada Health District
  • Representatives from Nevada’s federal delegation:
    • Zach Zaragoza with Senator Catherin Cortez Masto’s Office
    • Nelson Araujo with Senator Jacky Rosen’s Office
    • Cassandra Munoz with Congresswoman Dina Titus’s Office
    • Asha Jones with Congressman Steven Horsford’s Office
  • George Togliatti, Director, Nevada Department of Public Safety
  • Richard Whitley, Director, Nevada Department of Health & Human Services
  • Melissa Peek-Bullock, State Epidemiologist, Nevada Department of Health & Human Services
  • Dr. Mark Dubrova, Vice Chair, NSHE Board of Regents
  • Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Nevada Department of Education
  • Dr. Mark Pandori, Director, Nevada State Public Health Lab
  • Dr. John Novak, Chair, Washoe County Health District
  • Jeff Quinn, Office of Public Health Preparedness Manager, Southern Nevada Health District
  • Dr. Vit Kraushaar, Medical Investigator, Southern Nevada Health District
  • Dr. Fermin Leguen, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Southern Nevada Health District
  • Bill Welch, President & CEO, Nevada State Hospital Association
  • Dr. Christopher Lake, Executive Director of Community Resilience, Nevada State Hospital Association
  • Mason Van Houweling, CEO, UMC
  • Dr. Anthony Slonim, President, Renown Health
  • Rosemary Vassiliadis, Director of Aviation, McCarran International Airport 

Additionally, right before this press conference, we held an updated joint briefing with everyone I just mentioned along with many others via videoconference in Northern Nevada. I’d like to recognize them as well…

  • Congressman Mark Amodei’s Office
  • Lt. Governor Kate Marshall’s Office
  • Senate Minority Leader James Settelmeyer
  • Assembly Minority Leader Dr. Robin Titus
  • Stacey Montooth, Director, Nevada Indian Commission
  • Joan Hall, President, Nevada Rural Hospital Partners
  • Representatives from Carson City Health & Human Services:
    • Director Nicki Aaker
    • Jessica Rapp, Public Health Preparedness Epidemiologist
    • Veronica Galas, Clinical Services Manager
     
  • Marily Mora, President / CEO, Reno-Tahoe International Airport 

I know that took a long time, but I want Nevadans to understand the large scale collaboration taking place across the state, and the commitment of each of the individuals who have been working on this issue for months. They represent hundreds of more Nevadans in their respective fields and regions they serve – all waking up every day with the same mission: to prepare and protect the health and safety of the public.

There are many more agencies and individuals throughout the State who have been doing their part to monitor the situation and communicate preventative health strategies to the public . . . while also keeping my office aware of any updates. I feel reassured as a result of their work, and I thank them for their service.

Before we go any further, I want to lay out a few facts:

  • NUMBER ONE: as of right now, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the State of Nevada.
  • NUMBER TWO: According to the CDC, “for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low.”
  • AND NUMBER THREE: at this time, there hasn’t been a single COVID-19-related death in the United States.

However, the Centers for Disease Control recently acknowledged that more confirmed cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified, including cases in the United States, and, as Governor, it is incumbent on me to ensure that our State continues to prepare for any scenarios in this emerging and rapidly evolving situation.

Today I’ve brought together State, local, federal, and tribal partners who are working incredibly hard to monitor and prepare. In a few minutes, I will turn it over to them to discuss the status of these efforts and, at the conclusion of their statements, answer some questions.

But, before I do, I wanted to take a minute go over some basic preventative measures that all Nevadans can take to stop the spread of COVID-19 and all communicable diseases.

I realize this is going to sound a bit like the advice I used to give my daughters when they were little, but please bear with me:

  • Practicing basic hygiene is still of the utmost importance; specifically, washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, is still THE single-most effective way to prevent the spread of ALL communicable diseases, including COVID-19.
  • As soon as you get home from work, school…a press conference…or wherever, you should immediately wash your hands.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, and nose.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue and then immediately discard it. If you don’t have a tissue, cough into your elbow.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  • And if you do get sick, please stay home from work, school, or other places where you are in close and frequent contact with other people.

These are simple steps, but they’re also the best way every Nevadan can take precautions.

I understand that Nevadans have concerns and even fears about the coronavirus, but as UMC stated just the other day, “The antidote to this fear is knowledge and preparedness.”

So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to prepare, not panic. We’re going to choose collaboration over chaos.

I again want to thank everyone here in Las Vegas today and across the state for their diligence, commitment and collaborative efforts. In the coming weeks we will be working on ensuring that accurate and relevant information continues to be shared with the public.

With that, I’d like to turn it over to Melissa Peek-Bullock, our State Epidemiologist, along with Dr. Mark Pandori, Director of the Nevada State Public Health Lab, to provide an update and discuss State efforts in more detail.

CLOSING REMARKS (AFTER DIRECTOR TOGLIATTI) 

Thank you so much to all of our speakers today for providing informative updates on the on-going State and local efforts regarding COVID-19.

Before we open it up to Q&A, I wanted thank our federal delegation for their constant communication, collaboration, and advocacy on this issue at both the local and national level. I want to assure all of you that we will continue sharing information and working with our Members of Congress and U.S. Senators to ensure that Nevadans remains safe and protected as this situation develops.

I can assure you that every one of them is fighting on our behalf in the Nation’s capitol- and they share our mission to protect the public safety and health of all Nevadans.

I’d now like to turn it back to DHHS Director Richard Whitley and State Epidemiologist Melissa Peek-Bullock, who will do their best to answer your questions or direct them to the appropriate agency representative in attendance today.

Thank you.

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Contact

Ryan McInerney
Communications Director