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

Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – April 9, 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:

McDonaldCarano.com/coronavirus

 


State and Local News

Unemployment Numbers Continue to Skyrocket – The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (“DETR”) continues to see record numbers of unemployment claims, estimated to be more than 164,000 so far. Of initial unemployment claims, 96% have been filed successfully online, while only 4% have been filed by phone. Despite officials continuously recommending unemployment claims be filed online, phone call volumes to the unemployment call center are 90 times higher than normal compared to calls before March 15. In response, DETR has nearly tripled its staff from 75 to 200 employees and will continue to hire in the coming weeks, including contracting with a vendor to add an additional 100 full-time operators. National numbers released this morning show 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week alone, bringing the pandemic total to over 17 million individuals, or 13% – the worst since the Great Depression.

New Guidance for Grocery Stores – An important aspect to the Governor’s newest directive introduced Wednesday evening relates to social distancing in grocery stores, determining that they are an essential business and laying out guidelines for protocols that include, but are not limited to:

  • Limiting the number of customers entering the store
  • Requiring all workers to stay at least six feet away from customers and coworkers
  • Temporarily marking six-foot increments on the ground or floor (using chalk, colored tape, etc.)
  • Post large print attention-grabbing signs readable from a far distance informing customers of social distancing practices
  • Designate workers to monitor and facilitate distancing at check-out lines
  • All grocery stores must discontinue self-serve food stations, salad bars, and bulk produce bins, including nuts, seeds, trail mix, coffee, or beans. These products may be sold only if offered in pre-packaged portions
  • Install hand-sanitizing dispensers at store entrances, if not already in place
  • Ensure sick workers are not at work
  • Consider closing self-checkout stands and install “sneeze shields”, if not already in place
  • Schedule stocking and deep cleaning during closed hours. If a 24-hour store, stock during the slowest period of the night

Information on the new directive and grocery store guidance can be found here.

Gaming Industry and Union Members – The Culinary Union’s international parent union, UNTITE HERE, held a virtual press conference with its leadership Thursday to discuss the gaming industry’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, calling upon casino companies nationwide to take better care of employees. D. Taylor, the UNITE HERE International President, urged gaming employers to do better. Last month, the Culinary Union requested Nevada casinos provide one month’s pay for their workers and guarantee workers can return to their jobs once the properties reopen. To date, Wynn Resorts is the only union casino to agree to the request.

Notably, Station Casinos and Las Vegas Sands, both non-union properties, are leading the way in terms of worker compensation. Station Casinos employees will continue to receive pay and health benefits for its covered employees through May 15. The Las Vegas Sands will continue to pay full-time employees through May 1, in addition to providing pay for approximately 1,200 employees of third-party restaurants in its properties. Taylor called upon the rest of casinos to begin paying employees, referencing their ability to access federal loan programs if they don’t have adequate cash reserves.

Estimated Peak of April 17 – But Possible Fall Surge? – Clark County officials held a press conference Thursday addressing the COVID-19 response and what they anticipate seeing in the coming weeks. While the PPE supply is slightly better, the County received the national stockpile and the last distribution to districts will be done by end of day tomorrow. Currently in Clark County 79% of ICU beds are in use by COVID-19 patients as well as 51% of available ventilators. The average patient age is 52, with 55% female and 45% male. An estimated 727 people in southern Nevada have recovered from COVID-19, ahead of the estimated peak on Friday, April 17. While manufacturers and scientists continue to race to make a vaccine, officials forewarned that we could anticipate seeing the virus again in the fall, due to the unknown history of the disease and how to fight it.

Alcohol Curbside Pick-up and Delivery – Various local jurisdictions have implemented policies regarding alcohol delivery and curbside pick-up for restaurants, bars and liquor stores. In the state’s largest jurisdictions – Clark County, Las Vegas, Henderson, North Las Vegas, Washoe County, Reno and Sparks – curbside pickup of alcoholic beverages is permitted with the purchase of food. Clark County, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas permit delivery of alcohol with the purchase of food. Additionally, Clark County and Las Vegas permit package liquor stores to offer delivery service of package liquor to customers. While specifics in policy vary by jurisdiction, all prohibit third-party vendors such as Uber Eats and Postmates from participating in alcohol delivery and impose strict requirements on employees of businesses who deliver.

Las Vegas Sands Donates 2 Million Masks – The Las Vegas Sands announced last week its plan to purchase and donate 2 million surgical masks – 1 million for Nevada and 1 million for New York – to assist in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. The masks arrived in the United States from Guangzhou, China this morning via Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson’s private plane, stopping first in Albany, New York before arriving at McCarran International Airport later this afternoon. Masks in Nevada are being distributed through a state-run entity tasked with determining areas of need and distributing incoming supplies. The Sands is also in the process of donating 20,000 protective suits to the state of Nevada.

 


Federal Government Developments

Coronavirus Task Force Briefing – During last night’s White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, President Donald Trump announced that the federal government has shipped out more than 8,000 ventilators to states, and that almost 10,000 are ready to go while an additional 2,200 newly manufactured ventilators will be made available by Monday. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) yesterday announced contracts with General Motors and with Phillips that will allow for the delivery of 6,000 ventilators by June 1, and 2,500 ventilators by the end of May. Over 1.9 million people in the United States have been tested for COVID-19, and HHS has issued a new guidance that authorizes licensed pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests.

President Trump also asked Congress to pass an additional $250-billion in more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program “as soon as possible”. Thursday morning, Senate Democrats blocked a unanimous consent request from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) to pass standalone emergency funding for the program that is aimed at saving small business jobs. As of last night, over $98-billion has already been processed as part of the program, and the need for more funding is necessary to keep the account from running dry.

WHO Responds – The World Health Organization (“WHO”) yesterday defended their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including addressing the criticisms leveled by President Trump. Earlier this week, the President threatened to pull U.S. funding for the organization claiming they downplayed the severity of the virus, later walking back the threat. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended the organization, outlining the following response timeline:

  • January 1, 2020 – The agency activated its Incident Management Support Team to coordinate its response at headquarters, regional headquarters, and country level
  • January 5, 2020 – The WHO notified all member states about the new outbreak and posted news on their website
  • January 10, 2020 – The WHO published a “comprehensive package of guidance” for countries on how to detect and test potential cases
  • Late January – After the first cases of community spread were reported outside of China, the WHO “declared a public health emergency of international concern”, the highest level of alarm
  • Early February – The United Nations crisis management team was activated to help with the response
  • February 4, 2020 – The WHO declared the virus an epidemic, meaning more than a normal number of cases
  • March 11, 2020 – The WHO declared the virus a pandemic, meaning the worldwide spread of a new disease

 


COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada

These numbers are accurate as of 4:00 p.m. Thursday, April 9.

  • There are 2,456 positive cases in Nevada.
    • Clark County has 2,009 confirmed cases. Of those, 537 care hospitalized and the number recovered is unknown.
    • Washoe County has 363 confirmed cases. Of those, 25 are hospitalized and 38 have recovered.
    • Carson City has 13 confirmed cases. Of those, four (4) have recovered.
    • Douglas County has nine (9) confirmed cases. Of those four (4) have recovered
    • Elko County has 11 confirmed cases. Of those, three (3) have recovered
    • Lyon County has four (4) confirmed case.
    • Humboldt County has 16 confirmed case. Of those, four (4) are hospitalized
    • White Pine County has one (1) confirmed case.
    • Nye County has ten confirmed case. Of those, two (2) have recovered.
  • Nevada has reported 82 fatalities from the coronavirus.
  • Over 21,700 people have been tested.

Further statistical data can be found here: DHHS Coronavirus Statistics in Nevada


About McDonald Carano

McDonald Carano has helped to shape the Nevada business and legal landscape for 70 years. With more than 60 lawyers and government affairs professionals in our offices in Las Vegas and Reno, we are Nevada's law firm for business. We proudly represent Fortune 500 companies, financial and governmental institutions, fast-growth and mid-market companies, entrepreneurs, start-up ventures, non-profit organizations and individuals. Our attorneys deliver cross-discipline, one-stop, commercial law and government affairs counsel. Our dedication to clients, innovative thinking and practical solutions based in sound business and legal judgments are at the heart of our practice. For more information, visit mcdonaldcarano.com, call 775.788.2000 (Reno office), or 702.873.4100 (Las Vegas office) or reach us by email at info@mcdonaldcarano.com.

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