Nevada brings back mask mandate in line with new CDC guidance

Nevada is re-imposing a mask mandate for public indoor settings in places where COVID-19 is surging, including the state’s largest cities, state authorities said Tuesday.

Governor Steve Sisolak’s order, effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday, follows an indoor masking recommendation issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier in the day.

State officials said they hope the three-day grace period gives businesses time to adapt to the new guidelines affecting residents regardless of vaccination status in 12 of the state’s 17 counties.

“Businesses and residents in counties with substantial or high transmission are strongly urged to adopt the changes as soon as possible,” state health officials said in a statement.

Reno officials said Tuesday that they plan to require masks at their facilities, which include city hall and indoor pools, starting Wednesday.

In Nevada and nationwide, recent spikes in the number of new coronavirus cases reported daily have been fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Most new infections continue to be among unvaccinated people. So-called breakthrough infections, which generally cause milder illness, can occur in vaccinated people.

Nevada’s indoor mask requirements will apply to Reno, Las Vegas, Carson City, Elko and other cities. The state Gaming Control Board confirmed the mandate would apply to casinos in counties with high transmission rates.

It could hamper tourism industry efforts to entice visitors and trade shows back to power the state’s economy.

Health officials reported 1,124 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, more than any day since February 8.

The number of people hospitalized for the virus spiked to 1,143 on Tuesday, only four less than a peak reached last summer during a second surge — and before vaccines were developed.

Patients hospitalized have been on average younger than in previous surges, the state hospital association said last week.

Other states, including Illinois, have aligned their masking guidelines with the CDC.

However, governors in states including Texas, Iowa and Michigan have said they do not intend to implement new mandates.

The federal recommendations followed indoor mask mandates in cities like Los Angeles and St. Louis, both of which are experiencing less severe surges than Clark County and the Las Vegas area.

Though Sisolak’s directive instructs officials to adopt new CDC mask guidelines for students and teachers, officials said Tuesday that they intend to have “continued conversations” with school officials about recommendations and implementation.

Las Vegas-area school officials said Tuesday that children will have to wear face coverings when they return to in-person classes in less than two weeks — a decision that will likely stir passions among parents who’ve pleaded for classes to fully reopen after COVID-19 pandemic closures, but have vocally opposed masks and vaccinations.

The Carson City School District approved a reopening plan earlier in July to not require masks when classes begin on August 16.

In Washoe County, home to Reno, the teachers’ union wants masks mandatory for all students, but the superintendent has thus far recommended they be required only for staff and older students.

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