Virus fears close some courts, nix July 4 fireworks show
RENO, Nev. (AP) — The biggest Fourth of July celebration on the north shore of Lake Tahoe has been canceled, the state Supreme Court is banning visitors and courts are closing for two weeks in a rural southern Nevada county after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.
The town of Incline Village on the Nevada side of the alpine lake that straddles the California-Nevada line determined it was too risky to move forward with vendor contracts that need to be signed at this time for the annual fireworks and other activities.
“I don’t see a scenario where we can see 8,000 people on the beach,” Indra Winquest, interim director of the local general improvement district, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune.
Organizers of the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship, which is moving from Reno to the Tahoe area this summer for the first time in its 20-year history, announced last week the four-day tournament scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend would be delayed. It’s now set for July 30-Aug. 2 at Truckee, California.
On the south end of Tahoe, Fourth of July celebrations are still scheduled. Tens of thousands of people typically gather at South Lake Tahoe, California, and the hotel-casinos in neighboring Stateline, which have been shuttered since Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak included them in his closure of non-essential businesses statewide last month.
The state Supreme Court on Monday closed its courthouses in Carson City and Las Vegas to visitors, people who have traveled outside the United States during the last two weeks and anyone diagnosed with or exposed to someone with COVID-19.
A related order by Chief Justice Kristina Pickering said the Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals will hold arguments by telephone and videoconference, with proceedings live-streamed on the court website.
In the rural town of Pahrump, courts will be closed for at least two weeks so they can be sanitized after an employee tested positive and other workers were exposed to the virus. In court orders Monday, judges banned in-person hearings and criminal and civil trials for at least 14 days.
Pahrump Justice Court judges will continue to conduct initial appearances, bail hearings and arraignments with detainees and attorneys appearing only by telephone or videoconference. Applications for protective orders can be made by internet or at the Nye County sheriff’s office. State courts will be closed at least through April 30, and Justice Court set a May 4 reopening date.
County officials have reported at least 23 cases of COVID-19 in Pahrump, a community of about 40,000 people, and six cases in other parts of sprawling Nye County. No deaths have been reported.
The state Department of Health and Human Services said more than 3,800 people have tested positive for the virus statewide with 158 deaths. More than 32,000 people have been tested.
Most people with the virus experience symptoms such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
— Republican leaders in the state Assembly called on Sisolak to join a West Coast pact that includes California, Oregon and Washington to work together on economic plans to emerge from the pandemic. “The time is now to start the process of reopening Nevada,” the Assembly Republican Caucus said in a statement emailed to supporters and posted on social media. It urged the governor to join a regional plan to modify Nevada’s business closures and stay-at-home orders consistent with recommendations from President Donald Trump. Sisolak has rejected a regional alliance, saying he intends to rely on the advice of Nevada’s medical experts to chart a path forward.
— Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick in Reno said he forwarded a recommendation to Sisolak’s office on Friday urging he formalize as requirements the guidelines he issued earlier for grocery stores, including ensuring all workers wear personal protective equipment and posting signs urging shoppers to wear a cloth face covering. Dick said leaders of the local chamber of commerce have listed grocery stores among their chief concerns.
Ritter reported from Las Vegas.