Clark County's chief health officer urges face mask use; governor sets news conference for this evening

Clark County’s chief health officer, Dr. Fermin Leguen, issued a lengthy statement Monday morning imploring residents to wear face masks despite it not being a mandate.

Southern Nevada Health District officials said his statement was prompted by a rise in COVID-19 cases and anecdotal evidence suggesting fewer people are heeding recommendations to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the upper-respiratory virus. The health agency reported an additional 242 cases Saturday, 179 cases Sunday and 80 cases today — bringing the county total up to 8,815.

“Unfortunately, as more businesses are opening and people are beginning to resume their normal activities, it is easy to forget that we are still responding to a pandemic, and precautions need to be taken,” Leguen said in a statement.

He went on to note that face coverings have “faced opposition from limited segments of the population and reluctancy from some local business to properly request it from its patrons” despite growing evidence of their health benefits. Leguen then asks everyone — employers, workers, customers, residents and visitors — to wear face masks in public areas. He also asks the business community to consider adopting “more stringent” face-covering policies.

“Together we can continue to slow the spread of the COVID-19 in our community,” he wrote. “Stay safe.”

The 412- word statement comes the same day as Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a 5 p.m. press conference to provide an update on the state’s Phase 2 reopening plan. Nevada moved into Phase 2, which included allowing churches, gyms and bars to reopen with social-distancing requirements, on May 29. Casinos were allowed to reopen June 4.

Nevada Gaming Control Board Chair Sandra Douglass Morgan has expressed dismay at the number of patrons not wearing face masks in casinos. During a phone interview Monday morning, Douglass Morgan said she has seen a decline in face mask usage since June 4.

Per the regulatory agency’s health and safety policy, casino employees are required to wear face masks, and casinos must make masks available to patrons, who are strongly encouraged to wear them.

Douglass Morgan urged patrons to act responsibility by wearing face masks, not relax safety precautions amid the ongoing pandemic.

"Our patrons need to be responsible and respect and follow the guidelines if they want to come back in three or six months or a year,” she said.