Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – June 3, 2020

Government Affairs Daily Update

June 3, 2020

Our Government Affairs & Advocacy Team is dedicated to keeping you informed as we continue facing the novel coronavirus. We will provide daily updates, with additional resources available on our website.

Additionally, we will keep you informed of Nevada primary election results and updates through this platform.

State and Local COVID-19 Developments

Casinos Set to Reopen Thursday – Numerous casinos and gaming operations in Nevada are set to resume business Thursday morning at 12:01 a.m. after being shut down since March 18 when Governor Steve Sisolak ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses in the state. As Nevada continues to shift from response to recovery, non-essential businesses have begun to reopen their doors with various new public health precautions and social distancing requirements in place. To enforce similar precautions in casinos, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) required properties to submit individual reopening plans that account for public health concerns for pre-approval. Some casinos such as the D Las Vegas plan to reopen at midnight tonight, while others, like Wynn Resorts pushed their reopen to 10:00 a.m. Thursday, citing potential concerns over protests of George Floyd’s death on the Strip. The full, mandatory seven-page document from the GCB with casino guidelines and requirements can be found here: GCB Casino Reopening Plans.

Southern Nevada Local Governments Address Backpack Ban at Protests – The Clark County Commission held an emergency meeting Wednesday morning to discuss a proposed ordinance that would restrict certain items demonstrators may bring to a protest, including backpacks, strollers and various luggage items. The ordinance was presented to the Commission by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) representative Chuck Callaway, who noted the ordinance’s language mirrors regulations LVMPD has in place for crowd control on New Year’s Eve. Callaway highlighted several types of improvised weaponry the LVMPD has encountered during the previous days’ protests, which included rocks, bricks, glass or frozen water bottles, baseball bats, Molotov cocktails and dynamite. Commissioner Lawrence Weekly acknowledged the pain that black communities are feeling in Clark County, thanked LVMPD for its work and emphasized that while public safety is a priority, suffering throughout the nation and the local community deserves recognition. Commissioners Justin Jones and Tick Segerblom challenged the ordinance, each calling for more discussion between community partners such as the ACLU and noting concerns over the restriction of first amendment rights. The Commission opted to delay a vote, pushing the item to the next Commission meeting, scheduled for June 16.

However, the City of Las Vegas passed a similar ordinance Wednesday morning banning items like “backpacks, coolers, large purses, fanny packs, luggage, camera bags, strollers, carts or any type of vehicle propelled by humans, electricity or by mechanical means, such as a bicycle or electric scooter” from protests within city limits. The ordinance is set to expire on July 31 or when Mayor Carolyn Goodman declares the “current emergency over.” Violation of the City’s emergency ordinance is punishable by misdemeanor offense, up to six months in jail, and/or a $1,000 fine. There are exceptions for medical and news media equipment.

COVID-19 Contact-Tracing and Testing Capacity Update – The Nevada State COVID-19 Response Director, Caleb Cage, provided an update Wednesday on the state’s comprehensive plan to increase testing capacity and contact tracing efforts. Cage was joined by State Public Health Laboratory Director Dr. Mark Pandori and Division of Public and Behavior Health Deputy Director Julia Peek. Cage identified the state’s priority as advancing testing capacity with an emphasis on public and private partnerships to better position the state in the event of a surge in cases. Dr. Pandori noted that Nevada is currently operating on an average of 6,000 tests per day, as the national goal is being able to test 2-percent of the population per month. Peek provided an update on contact-tracing efforts, noting that the state has contracted close to 600 tracers comprised of both volunteers and private sector employees working to provide a more comprehensive understanding of COVID-19 in Nevada. The government entities are also working with higher education institutions to create plans that will better educate and prepare the incoming public health workforce.

City of Reno Lifts Curfew – After putting in place a curfew in the City of Reno Tuesday out of an abundance of caution, Mayor Hillary Schieve rescinded the restriction on Wednesday. Reno has been under curfew orders since violent rioting took place Saturday, and Tuesday’s restriction was further intended to keep the community safe. While the curfew has been lifted, the City is still asking people to not gather in groups of 50 or more between 7:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada

These numbers are accurate as of 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, June 3.

  • There are 8,948 positive cases in Nevada.
    • This number is up 93 cases from Tuesday.
  • Nevada has reported 429 fatalities from the coronavirus.
    • This number is up nine (9) cases from Tuesday.
  • Over 156,000 people have been tested.
  • Further statistical data can be found here: DHHS Coronavirus Statistics in Nevada.

National COVID-19 Developments

Inspector General to Oversee COVID-19 Money – The U.S. Senate Tuesday confirmed a White House lawyer as the first special inspector general for pandemic relief, tasked with monitoring the massive amount of COVID-19 relief money. Senators voted 51-40 (all Republicans and one Democrat) to confirm Brian D. Miller, who currently works in the White House counsel’s office. The position was established in the $2-trillion COVID-19 rescue package to oversee the half-trillion dollars allocated to the Treasury Department, as well as the trillions of dollars in emergency lending by the Federal Reserve.

Non-Emergency Visits Down – Emergency room visits in the U.S. decreased 42-percent in April compared to the same month in 2019, according to a new analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wednesday. The declines were the greatest among children 14 and younger, women, and around geographic areas hardest hit by COVID-19. While there were high numbers of emergency visits due to COVID-19, they were outweighed by the steep decline in routine cases, such as elective surgeries, mammograms, and minor ailments. As the country begins to move out of the COVID-19 crisis, however, numbers have slightly rebounded, with visits down 26-percent the last week of May compared to the same time in 2019.

Tear Gas Could Exacerbate COVID-19 – As protests across the country continue, health officials are raising concerns with the effect that tear gas has in making individuals more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus. While the gas initially causes eyes to water and throats to burn, it may additionally be causing damage to people’s lungs, making them more susceptible to getting respiratory illnesses. Additionally, the gas can incite coughing, which can further spread COVID-19 from an infected person, especially if they do not wear a mask. Due to the delay between initial exposure and the start of COVID-19 symptoms, the impacts of the protests in relation to the virus may not be known for several weeks. Epidemiologists have already said that the protests would almost certainly lead to more cases, especially due to the risks of crowd activity including shouting and chanting in close quarters, many times without wearing masks and gloves.

Nevada Primary Election Updates

Nevada Primary Numbers – Received mail-in ballots for Nevada’s primary ticked up slightly Wednesday, with 17.1-percent of ballots received. Turnout in Clark County is 15.1-percent with turnout in Washoe at 17.8-percent. Turnout in Nevada’s rural counties, which predominately vote Republican, rose to 26-percent, with a third of registered voters in Douglas County mailing in their ballots. Overall, Democrats in Nevada have returned 5,439 more ballots than Republicans.

No Plans to Withhold Nevada Federal Funds – After President Donald Trump threatened to withhold federal funds to Nevada in response to the state’s mail-in primary plan, acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought has indicated that no steps have been taken to do so. Speaking before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Tuesday, Vought addressed a question related to the tweet from Nevada U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D), by saying that the President, “has not made a decision to move in that direction.” In the May 20 tweet, President Trump said that Nevada’s plan would create, “a great Voter Fraud scenario,” a threat that was quickly opposed by numerous Nevada officials, including Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R), who defended the decision to move to the mail-in election to ensure voters’ and poll workers’ health.

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