Understanding and responding to the business and legal impacts of COVID-19

Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – April 14, 2020

COVID-19 Daily Update

April 14, 2020
Our Government Affairs & Advocacy Team is dedicated to keeping you informed of pertinent information as we continue facing the novel coronavirus. We will be providing daily updates on the matter over the course of the next few weeks.
Please continue to refer to our Firm website for resources and information:
https://www.mcdonaldcarano.com/coronavirus

State and Local News

Governor Sisolak Tuesday Night Press Conference

  • Over 1.9 million PPE has been distributed in the state.
  • 59-percent of beds in the state are occupied, 10-percent of those are COVID-19 cases.
  • 69-percent of ICU beds in the state are occupied, 33-percent of those are COVID-19 cases.
  • 37-percent of ventilators in the state are in use, 39-percent of those are COVID-19 cases.
  • An additional 700 Nevada National Guard members have been activated, bringing the total response team to over 800.
  • More than 300,000 Nevadans have applied for unemployment over the last 30 days – nine (9) times as many than the highest weekly claim during the Great Recession.
  • Governor Sisolak has ordered the Department of Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) to retroactively back date all employment claims to the earliest date of eligibility, back as far as March 15.
  • Nevada will be one of the earlier states to dispense $600 to those receiving unemployment, receiving payments as early as tomorrow, staggering throughout the rest of the week. These payments will be backdated as well.
  • DETR has tripled their staff in the last four weeks from 70 to 200 individuals, and is contracting with a vendor to add an additional 100 people to their call lines.
  • The states unemployment system has paid out roughly $200-million in benefits since March 15.
  • When asked about the potential of a special session, Governor Sisolak indicated that he has not had enough time to think about a special session, and will continue taking the situation day by day.

Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program – After receiving multiple complaints from smaller gaming companies, the American Gaming Association, and Congressional delegates in multiple states, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued new guidance Tuesday allowing casinos with fewer than 500 employees (?) to participate in the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program if its gaming revenue was less than $1-million and made up less than half of business revenue. When the SBA launched the program to help businesses make payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic, it relied on long-established policies to write the rules for the loan program, including a guideline that excluded businesses that make more than one-third of its revenue from gambling. Many smaller taverns, restaurants and grocery store slot machine areas did not qualify under the policy as written. Forty-two states have such establishments and were affected by the ruling. Nevada’s delegation was instrumental in advocating for the change, including lobbying the President and Treasury Secretary. Although the new guidance falls short of fully addressing the problem, Congressional representatives are preparing to fully address the issue in the next major relief package.

Convention Centers Make Cuts – The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) approved a $79-million cut to its 2020 fiscal budget, which will include staff layoffs and furloughs and a drastic reduction in operating expenses.

The LVCVA board also voted to take cost-reducing steps, including eliminating performance pay for executives and management, implementing a hiring freeze and deferring phase three of its convention center renovation project. The agency, which heavily relies on room tax revenue collection, was anticipated to collect more than $300-million during the 2021 fiscal year, along with $60-million in building revenue. According to experts, that number is expected to look more like $100-million to $120-million in room tax revenue, falling by almost two-thirds. The LVCVA has about 455 full time employees, 80 of which will be eliminated and 270 will be furloughed. All will be paid through April 25.

The Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) also held a financial board meeting Tuesday and laid out potential options to cut costs, including implementing furloughs and reducing salaries. The full RSCVA board will reconvene and vote on a final recommendation April 30.

Clark County Hospital Capacity Update – During a Clark County press conference, various county officials and community representatives provided an update on the county’s plan for an alternative care site in the event of a surge in coronavirus cases. Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck provided insight into the county’s plan to utilize the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center to serve as an alternative care site for patients who require additional care but can be discharged from a hospital. Steinbeck said that while this plan is in place, the county’s hope is to continue prioritizing hospitals as the primary place for treatment and reaching capacity is not a reality yet. Steve Hill, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), and Mason VanHouweling, CEO of University Medical Center, added the respective organizations will provide aid to the extent possible should the alternate care site be needed. Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick thanked community leaders and reaffirmed that while the Las Vegas Convention Center is not yet needed, it acts as a critical safety net for providing care to Southern Nevada.

Washoe County Commissioners Weigh Options – The Washoe County Board of County Commissioners met Tuesday morning and unanimously approved recommendations for mitigating the financial impact on Washoe County caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Current estimates for the loss of revenue to the county is $27-million, though it is subject to change as long as emergency directives remain in place. The overall drop in revenue is attributed primarily to the reduction in C-tax revenue, most of which comes from sales tax. The recommended immediate actions to be taken through June 30 include a hiring freeze, purchasing freeze on non-essential expenses and contracts, a reduction in capital improvement project funds, and the utilization of the $3-million stabilization fund. These savings will be contributed to the current $5.4-million general fund contingency budget.

Coronavirus Count in Clark County – New data from the Southern Nevada Health District shows where in Clark County the coronavirus is most prevalent, breaking down case numbers both by municipality and zip code. Of cities in Clark County, Las Vegas has the most cases of COVID-19, ranking in the 250-1630 cases category. Both Henderson and North Las Vegas have between 19-249, Boulder City and Mesquite have 5-18 and the surrounding rural areas have 0-4 cases. In examining cases by zip code, the zip codes with the highest numbers are predominantly in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. The full maps can be found here:

Cases by City
Cases by Zip Code

Federal Government Developments

Tuesday from the White House– President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will be putting a hold on U.S. funding for the World Health Organization (WHO), a decision that he has hinted at for several weeks. The President previously criticized the WHO for failing to investigate the credibility of reports coming out of China and not supporting his initial travel ban to the country. The U.S. is the largest donor to the WHO by far and makes its contribution annually. In addition to the WHO announcement, the President continued to hint at a second task force, whose role will be to advise on how to re-open parts of the country as early as May 1, when the current White House social distancing guidelines are set to expire.

States Create Regional Pacts – In response to the President’s continued desire to open the country as soon as possible, Governors on the country’s East and West coasts are forming regional pacts that give a broad framework for the unilateral re-opening of respective regions’ economies. California Governor Gavin Newsom, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced an agreement between the three states to work in close coordination to ensure the safe and responsible re-opening of the West Coast economy. The regional approach allows areas of the country to re-open in phases as peaks in cases of the coronavirus occur at different times nationwide. The first announcement came on Monday from New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo who said New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, are forming a regional working group comprised of each of the governors’ chiefs of staff, and one public health official and one economic expert from each state. The working group will be tasked with designing a comprehensive plan for phasing out business closures and stay-at-home orders, while taking into account state-specific needs and factors.

COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada

These numbers are accurate as of 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 14.

  • There are 3,134 positive cases in Nevada.
  • Clark County has 2,509 confirmed cases. Of those, 623 are hospitalized and 1,141 have recovered.
  • Washoe County has 532 confirmed cases. Of those, 34 are hospitalized and 92 have recovered.
  • Carson City has 23 confirmed cases. Of those, six (6) have recovered.
  • Douglas County has 10 confirmed cases. Of those four (4) have recovered.
  • Elko County has 11 confirmed cases. Of those, three (3) have recovered.
  • Lyon County has 10 confirmed case. Of those, one (1) has recovered.
  • Humboldt County has 20 confirmed case. Of those, four (4) are hospitalized.
  • White Pine County has three (3) confirmed cases.
  • Nye County has 15 confirmed case. Of those, two (2) have recovered.
  • Churchill County has one (1) confirmed case.
  • Nevada has reported 130 fatalities from the coronavirus.
  • Over 26,800 people have been tested.
  • Further statistical data can be found here: DHHS Coronavirus Statistics in Nevada

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