Carson City - March 10, 2020
On Sunday, March 8th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contacted states, including Nevada, with notification that 21 passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). This ship had been floating off the California coast since Thursday when those 21 passengers tested positive. We have received confirmation from federal authorities that the 49 passengers from Nevada are asymptomatic.
Since Sunday evening, state officials across the country have been working with federal agencies to coordinate the transportation of residents back to their respective home states for the required 14-day quarantine in lieu of sending them to military bases around the country, including Texas and Georgia. In an effort to identify an equivalent option in Nevada, Governor Sisolak directly contacted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Defense to ask if any military facilities in Nevada could be made available to isolate and monitor the returning passengers in a manner that also protects the health and safety of personnel at the bases. The federal government informed us that this was not feasible.
Over the last 36 hours, the Governor’s Office and Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) have worked on contingency plans with local health authorities across the state to determine the safest and most secure plan to allow passengers from Nevada to return under conditions that could best safeguard not only their health and safety, but the health and safety of other Nevadans.
After extensive review and with the consensus of local health authorities, the Governor sent a letter last night to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response confirming the state’s decision to bring Nevada’s residents home, under specific conditions meant to protect both the possibly exposed passengers and other Nevadans. The conditions imposed include:
• The passengers must be asymptomatic;
• The passengers must be tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding the secure flight back to Nevada so the presumptive test results will be available for local health authorities;
• Any passenger that refuses testing will remain under the supervision of the appropriate federal agency;
• The passengers must be returned to the state in an isolated manner that limits exposure to the general public; and
• These passengers will remain under the supervision of their respective local health authority for the 14-day isolation period immediately upon their return to Nevada
We have received confirmation from the federal government accepting all the conditions outlined above. Once testing samples have been collected, the 49 asymptomatic Nevadans will return home via secure air transportation provided by the federal government and will not enter any buildings of any commercial airport in the state. Local health authorities will arrange secure transportation from the airports to the passengers’ homes. In coordination with local health districts, each passenger will be required to sign a Declaration of Self Quarantine upon arrival, confirming they will physically separate and confine themselves from other people for a period of 14 days. The respective local health authorities will implement secure and isolated ground transportation for passengers that will ensure no exposure to surrounding communities. They will be securely returned to their homes for the mandatory 14-day isolation and monitoring period, under supervision of their local health districts.
Travel from California to Nevada is being managed by the federal government, and is subject to change on short notice. We will continue to keep Nevadans updated as we become aware of any significant changes to this plan.
No additional information will be provided that could result in the identification these passengers.