As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a new mandate that requires everyone to wear a mask indoors regardless of whether they are vaccinated or not. The mandate follows new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated mask guidelines, which came out on Tuesday and urged everyone, even those who are fully vaccinated, to wear a mask indoors in public spaces.
A map released by the CDC shows counties with high transmission rates, including Clark County, but every county in the state is considered an area of high transmission, and 12 of 17, including Washoe County where Reno is located, will require masks.
Nevada’s mask mandate becomes official at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, giving businesses a chance to add signs notifying patrons of the new requirement, but Nevada Health Response officials warn that businesses and residents in high transmission areas such as Clark County should adopt the changes as soon as possible.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board also released a new directive ordering its licensees to require masks for all employees, patrons, and guests indoors and include signs notifying everyone of the change.
Last week, the Clark County Commissioners mandated that all employees working indoors would be required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. This new state mandate overrides the Clark County directive, which the commissioners planned to revisit on August 17.
The news comes as COVID-19 cases caused by the highly spreadable delta variant are on the rise. CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned that new data showed that vaccinated people could spread the delta variant more easily than previous versions of COVID-19 in a news conference on Tuesday.
Nevada’s test positivity rate is now at 13.7 percent, up from 13.5 percent, while Clark County’s increased to 14.9 percent. Monday’s latest numbers from the state include 1,124 new COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths, all in Clark County, which accounts for 85 percent of new cases in the state. State health officials noted that nearly all hospitalized patients with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
The state dropped a mask mandate in May and at the time suggested that only vaccinated people could remove their masks. Nevada’s latest mandate follows an emergency directive issued in May that requires people to wear masks “in a manner consistent with current guidance issued by the CDC.”