State updates guidance on COVID-19 mask-wearing protocols

State updates guidance on COVID-19 mask-wearing protocols
COVID-19 mitigation measures have stirred up anger in some rural Nevada counties, where restrictions have been seen as a government overreach. Photo by Atoms on Unsplash

CARSON CITY–Gov. Steve Sisolak on Monday moved to align Nevada’s face covering mandate with that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through a new Emergency Directive 045. The CDC, on April 27, revised its guidelines for masks and face coverings to adjust for a greater number of individuals being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The CDC’s new guidance allows for fully vaccinated people to gather indoors with others who are fully vaccinated, or with one other household who are unvaccinated, without masking or social distancing. Fully vaccinated people also aren’t required to wear a mask for outdoor activities, except in some crowded settings. 

In most indoor public spaces, masks will still be required for everyone, the CDC advises. That’s because the vaccination status of people, and their potential risk for severe COVID-19, cannot be known. 

The governor’s directive on masking notes that because of the continued potential for COVID-19 transmission in indoor public spaces, businesses should ensure all customers and employees follow masking procedures. Businesses can also restrict entry for those who are not wearing masks or face coverings. 

“Fully vaccinated” as defined by the CDC means two weeks have passed since an individual received their second dose in a two-dose series of vaccinations, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks have passed since an individual received a single-dose vaccine, such as the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine. Those who don’t meet these requirements are not fully vaccinated and should continue taking all precautions until they are.  

Public meetings to resume in person June 1

Also on Monday the state’s COVID-19 response team issued a reminder that public bodies must resume in-person meetings following the state’s Open Meeting Law on June 1.

Relaxed requirements for Nevada’s Open Meeting Law were put into place through provisions of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Emergency Directive 006, which allowed for public meetings to be held virtually during the pandemic. However, that directive will be terminated under Sisolak’s reopening plans. 

The plans, outlined in Emergency Directive 044 also terminate a handful of other directives, including those concerning youth and adult sports, gatherings and K-12 education. The directive also includes the transfer of control for COVID-19 mitigation to local entities. 

Washoe County School District in early April reverted back to virtual meetings after months of in-person meetings held at area schools to allow for social distancing. WCSD board of trustees president Angie Taylor said the decision was made as a result of disruptive behavior from public commenters flouting state-ordered COVID-19 mitigation protocols — like mask wearing — at its March 30 meeting.

Some citizens have criticized local public bodies for the limits placed on public comment during virtual meetings during the pandemic. Government officials have also grappled with how best to include public comment in virtual meetings while maintaining order. On June 19, 2020 a Reno City Council Meeting was disrupted by two callers making bomb threats.