Nevada Coronavirus Task Force Focused on Testing Capabilities, Reopening Businesses

Posted on: May 4, 2020, 08:39h. 

Last updated on: May 4, 2020, 10:23h.

Nevada’s coronavirus task force led by former MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren is pivoting its focus from obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) to testing capabilities and developing business reopening plans.

Nevada coronavirus task force
The Nevada coronavirus task force is fixated on increasing testing throughout the Silver State. (Image: John Locher/AP)

Murren, who expedited his planned departure from the casino operator in March to head up the task force, spoke over the weekend with the Associated Press. He revealed the agency’s new focus: provide Nevada with as much testing capabilities as possible, which would allow not only the general public to feel safer resuming some sense of normalcy, but will improve health officials’ ability to contact trace new COVID-19 cases.

“That’s an essential building block toward restarting our economy,” Murren said.

The former casino exec said a few weeks back that Nevada’s health system was capable of processing less than 1,000 tests a day. Murren said the coronavirus task force has a goal of being able to generate 30,000 tests a day by June 1.

Nevada has 5,426 positive COVID-19 cases, and the disease has been cited for 262 deaths.

Safety First

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced the formation of the COVID-19 Response, Relief & Recovery Task Force to mobilize the private sector to assist the state in combating the coronavirus.

Murren said the agency quickly moved to secure much-needed supplies and PPE to support the state’s effort to slow the spread. Wynn Resorts Chairman Phil Satre is also on the eight-member coronavirus task force.

More than $10 million in donations poured into the agency within its first week of formation. The money allowed the task force to secure various PPE, including more than one million masks, one million pairs of medical gloves and gowns, and 100 gallons of hand sanitizer.

With the agency feeling adequately equipped with supplies, it’s switching its focus to ramping up testing – a key concern across the nation regarding businesses resuming operations.

The task force is working with the Nevada Chamber of Commerce and various trade organizations and unions to develop best practices to safely reopen their businesses.

Testing Issue No. 1

Governors critical of President Donald Trump have said they do not have enough tests to reopen. The President has responded that states were underprepared, and obtaining such capabilities should be their responsibility.

“We have great testing capacity and have performed 6.5 million tests, which is more than every country in the world, combined!” Trump tweeted today.

A recent survey from Piplsay research found that 64 percent of Americans think “President Trump should not reopen the economy in May.” The President has repeatedly said it’s up to each state to determine when they can safely reopen.

It’s very clear that the testing capacity in this state is inadequate,” Murren told FOX5.

The Nevada coronavirus task force is working with University Medical Center to increase its testing capabilities. A multimillion-dollar gift received from United Arab Emirates is funding the project.

“We need to test not 28,000 people, as we have today in a population of 3.3 million. We have to test hundreds of thousands of people,” Murren concluded.