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Nellis, Red Rock visitors center again require masking

Updated June 13, 2022 - 9:47 pm

Nellis Air Force Base and the Red Rock Canyon visitors center are requiring indoor mask-wearing, regardless of vaccination status, now that Clark County has been federally designated as having a high community level of COVID-19.

Nellis announced the mask policy, along with the renewal of other restrictions effective Tuesday, in a post on its Facebook page Monday.

The mask requirement inside the visitors center at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, as well as the Bureau of Land Management main office on North Torrey Pines Drive, went into effect on Friday, said agency representative Kirsten Cannon. All federal facilities in communities with high COVID-19 levels would fall under the restriction, she said.

UNLV on Monday also recommended that students and staff return to wearing masks in public indoor spaces, but stopped short of mandating them.

As for Harry Reid International Airport, which is operated by Clark County, “No directive of wearing masks at the airport has been instituted at this point,” representative Joe Rajchel said.

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised Clark County’s COVID-19 designation from moderate to high based on its case rate and hospitalizations. The CDC recommends indoor mask-wearing in communities with high levels, a recommendation seconded on Friday by the Southern Nevada Health District.

In its social media post, Nellis also said the base would limit capacity for both work and social gatherings to 50 percent, and that social distancing would be in effect in dining facilities. Meetings would be limited to no more than 50 participants, unless the Air Force under secretary provides a waiver.

The post also said there would be COVID-19 screening tests for those who are unvaccinated. The base’s public affairs office could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a letter sent Monday by UNLV President Keith Whitfield and Provost Chris Heavey, the university said it was making its recommendation in accordance with the health district’s recommendations.

“As we head into the summer season, we ask that everyone on our campuses continue to exhibit kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward one another – regardless of the personal decision to wear, or not wear, a mask,” they wrote. “Thank you for your continued support.”

UNLV officials are recommending that the school community wear masks indoors and in public spaces like hallways, elevators, meeting rooms, restrooms, classrooms, labs and libraries.

The university also urged students and staff to get both doses of their vaccine and a booster shot in order to stop the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 cases have been increasing in Clark County and in much of the country, with variants of the omicron strain showing an enhanced ability to evade immunity from vaccination or prior infection, and as built-up immunity has waned over time. These infections generally are milder than those from earlier strains of the virus such as delta.

Several metrics contributed to the designation. Clark County’s rate of new cases in the past week is 228.04 per 100,000 population. Its rate of new hospital admissions is 10.9 patients per 100,0000 population, and 4.3 percent of its staffed inpatient beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to CDC data.

The Nevada Hospital Association said Wednesday that hospital infrastructure “is not being stressed by the disease.”

Clark County, the only county in Nevada at the high level, is among the nearly 10 percent of counties in the United States with the designation. The majority of the nation’s counties — 57.51 percent — are at the low level, and 32.75 percent are at medium.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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