2 more die, Vegas slows as region responds to virus outbreak | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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2 more die, Vegas slows as region responds to virus outbreak

March 23, 2020 - 6:34 PM

LAS VEGAS - Two more people have died of the coronavirus in the Las Vegas area, bringing to four the number of deaths in Nevada, health officials said Monday.

Casinos remained closed, most stores were shuttered, popular scenic areas were gated and the control tower at usually busy McCarran International Airport remained idled in the tourism-dependent region slowed by requirements to avoid person-to-person contact to stem the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who used emergency powers on Friday to force what he termed non-essential businesses to close, responded to days of questions with a memo Sunday saying that liquor stores have to close under his order. Grocery stores, which also sell beer, wine and liquor, are considered essential and can remain open.

Las Vegas police and Clark County business license enforcement officers visited 113 businesses and issued warning letters to 36 during the weekend, police said. Four people received court summonses and seven businesses were forced to close for refusing to follow the governor's order.

Airport service slowed to a trickle with the control tower closed for a fifth day for cleaning and employee self-isolation. A controller tested positive March 18 for the highly contagious virus.

Airlines cancelled many flights to Las Vegas, where most resorts were closed and the usually crowded Strip was eerily quiet. Arriving flights continued at a reduced pace of about 12 an hour, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. That was a fraction of the usual frequency of 30-to-56 flights-per-hour that the airport can reach at peak times. McCarran ranks as one of the busiest passenger airports in the nation.

Airport spokesman Joe Rajchel said airlines make scheduling decisions, not the airport, and he could not directly attribute the decrease in service to the tower closure. Passengers were being advised to check airlines for schedule delays and cancellations.

Outside the city, gates were locked at a scenic 13-mile road through Red Rock National Conservation Area. Visitor facilities were closed by the governor’s order, said John Asselin, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Facilities also were closed at the BLM’s Sloan Canyon reserve.

At Lake Mead National Recreation Area, where the National Park Service tallied crowds nearly double the usual number on Saturday, officials on Monday suspended visitor services; closed roads, parking lots, campgrounds and boat launch ramps; and banned boat owners from overnight stays beginning Tuesday. Boats can’t be removed from marina slips.

The park remains open to day-use walkers, hikers and bicyclists, a Park Service statement said. But overnight visitors have to leave by noon Wednesday.

Clark County officials closed more than 100 playgrounds and park restrooms, promising that people will find them posted with yellow caution tape. But outdoor spaces and trails remained open, according to a parks and recreation department statement.

Henderson and North Las Vegas took similar steps, including closing basketball courts and skateboard parks to limit people from gathering.

The Southern Nevada Health District said a woman in her 70s and a man in his 60s who died while being treated for COVID-19 each had underlying medical conditions. The conditions were not specified and names and were not made public.

Health officials say most patients exhibit mild or moderate symptoms like a fever and cough. The vast majority recover. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, severe symptoms including pneumonia can occur.

Statewide, 245 people have tested positive for the virus and nearly 3,500 have tested negative, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

More than 150 of the positive cases have been in the Las Vegas area, including all four deaths.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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