Nevada’s newly minted Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican, said Friday that he signed his first two executive orders, including one that repeals all COVID-19 mandates from the prior administration.
Lombardo, former sheriff of Clark County, was sworn into office as the state’s 31st governor on Jan. 2, pledging to “follow the Nevada Way.”
The first of the two executive orders Lombardo signed on Friday rescinds all COVID-19-related directives issued under the administration of former Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat.
Today, I signed my first 2 executive orders.
1. I repealed and rescinded the COVID mandates from the previous administration.
2. I called on state leadership to address state workforce vacancies and get state workers back to in person, normal office operations by July 1. pic.twitter.com/eAPeY5HH2f
— Governor Joe Lombardo (@JosephMLombardo) January 7, 2023
Sisolak ended the COVID-19 state of emergency in Nevada by signing a proclamation to that effect (pdf) in May 2022, but Lombardo’s order said the move “left unclear and uncertain the status of subsequent declarations,” per the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Many of Sisolak’s directives, including masking and social distancing, haven’t been active in over a year.
Lombardo’s office said of the executive order that “the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are significantly down from their peaks, vaccinations and treatments are widely available, and many Nevadans have built up natural immunity.”
“Therefore, this executive order repeals and rescinds any remaining COVID-19 era declarations, executive orders, and emergency directives,” it added.
Lombardo has previously taken action against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In February 2022, when he was the Clark County sheriff and a candidate for Nevada governor, he lifted the vaccine mandate for new hires of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
The second executive order Lombardo signed on Friday directs the Nevada Department of Administration to find ways to boost hiring and retention of state employees amid a high vacancy rate, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that this rate sits at 24 percent of legislatively approved positions.
Lombardo, who ran as a more moderate candidate compared to the rest of the Republican primary field, called for unity while speaking at his Jan. 4 inauguration ceremony, saying that “in some places, we are needlessly polarized.”
Still, he made clear he stands for conservative ideals.
“At the same time, I will carry the cause of conservative ideals that are anchored by the personal responsibility, fiscal discipline and limited government interference,” he said, reiterating his campaign pledge of no new taxes.
Lombardo also repeatedly referenced the “Nevada Way,” a concept that includes personal grit in overcoming adversity.
He applied that idea to what he described as difficult years during the COVID-19 pandemic and the hit Nevada’s tourist-based economy took amid lockdowns and other business restrictions.
“Each time that we were forced to confront these setbacks, we reemerged more driven to succeed than ever before,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.