Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Daily Update

May 18, 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:

State and Local News

Nevada’s Rainy Day Fund Emptied – Members of the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) voted Monday to approve transferring the entirety of the state’s Account to Stabilize the Operation of State Government. Commonly referred to as the Rainy Day Fund, the account holds $401-million, which will be used to help plug about half of the hole in the state’s budget. The hole is estimated to be between $741-million and $911-million. Democratic lawmakers, who hold 13 of the 20 seats on IFC, were in favor of transferring the entirety of the fund immediately, arguing the money would be needed in full no matter what happens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Republicans, however, voted against the motion, requesting more details in the state’s plan to balance the budget, and raising concerns that the state’s credit rating and bond capacity could be affected. Nevada’s Rainy Day Fund was robust for the first time in more than a decade, after lawmakers made changes in 2017 to keep the account healthy, including moving tax dollars from retail marijuana sales to help improve the financial viability of the fund. IFC will meet again on Thursday to discuss creating and naming members to a new subcommittee that will oversee and advise the state’s use of federal relief funds and grants that will be received due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevada COVID-19 Response Director – Governor Steve Sisolak announced Monday the appointment of Caleb Cage as the State of Nevada COVID-19 Response Director. Cage is the former head of the State Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and was most recently the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development and Community Colleges at the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE). The new position, which is funded by federal dollars, will work with multiple state, local and federal jurisdictions, focusing on testing efforts and capacity, contract tracing, and the coordination of resources.

Washoe County Sees Cases Jump – Washoe County reported the biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases over the weekend, with nearly half coming from a Sparks nursing home. 54 new cases were reported, with a number coming from Arbors Memory Care, a residential state-licensed facility that assists seniors with initial and developing signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Nursing facilities and assisted living facilities are at the forefront of the virus across the state. As of Sunday, there have been 714 confirmed cases at skilled nursing facilities and 80 at assisted living facilities. Of those, 462 are residents while 332 are staff members.

Statewide Antibody Tests – The Nevada State Public Health Laboratory plans to begin a new antibody study to better understand how many people have already been infected by the coronavirus and how many may have some immunity. Unlike tests that determine whether someone currently has COVID-19, the antibody tests aim to detect immune system proteins that indicate a person has previously had the infection. Identifying a past infection, including in people who showed no symptoms, can help public health officials calculate a more accurate rate of death from the disease. The state lab, located in Reno, plans to launch four or five antibody studies with the next few weeks that will involve 400 people each, focusing on the general public, front-line health workers and emergency responders. The Southern Nevada Health District in Las Vegas is planning to offer tests by early June, and will additionally offer tests to high-risk populations, such as the homeless and people in nursing homes. As the Governor and policy makers continue planning to reopen stores, casinos and schools, antibody testing may be a key to return people to work.

No More Parking Fees – After implementing a parking fee to all guests in January 2016, MGM Resorts International announced Monday that free parking will resume at all nine of its Strip resorts for the foreseeable future upon reopening. In the reopening plan released by MGM Resorts last week, Bellagio and New York-New York will be the first properties to reopen on the Strip. The plan includes temperature checks for employees, personal protective equipment, enhanced sanitization of highly touched surface, contactless check-in options on smartphones, and others.

Anti-Governor Sisolak Protest Continues – About 150 demonstrators returned to the Governor’s Mansion over the weekend to protest Governor Steve Sisolak’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Carrying signs calling for the Governor’s removal from office and supporting President Donald Trump’s re-election, few appeared to wear masks, and some were visibly armed. While Nevada has entered Phase 1 of reopening and some restrictions have been loosened, protestors called for the state to fully reopen and get the economy back to working.

Federal Government Developments

Hydroxychloroquine Support from President Trump – President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that he has been taking the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine every day for the last week and a half, despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that the drug is not effective. According to the President, the White House physician did not recommend that he take the drug but the physician does administer it. While the President has been tested multiple times for COVID-19, with all tests reporting back negative, and he claimed he started taking the drug after hearing from frontline workers who are also taking it as a prophylactic. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that hydroxychloroquine does not work against COVID-19 and can potentially cause heart problems. The New England Journal of Medicine has also published a study with similar findings.

California Continues to Reopen – California Governor Gavin Newsom announced more guidelines Monday that will allow most of California to further reopen. Roughly 53 of the state’s 58 counties in California will be eligible to move forward if they meet these specific data points:

  • There can be no more than a 5-percent increase in hospitalizations for seven days
  • There can be no more than 25 new coronavirus cases per 10,000 residents or a test positivity rate of less than 8-percent within the past 14 days
  • Testing capacity must be at least 1.5 tests per 1,000 people per day and there should be 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents
  • Efforts must be in place to protect those living and working in skilled nursing facilities. Essential workers must also be protected, and hospital surge capacity must be maintained
  • Every county needs to have plans in place to reinstitute stronger stay-at-home orders if necessary

Texas Moves to Phase 2 – Texas saw its highest single day increase in positive COVID-19 cases on Saturday, attributed to the spike in increased testing, with the percentage of positive tests declining. The state is reporting at least 47,784 cases of coronavirus, with approximately 1,336 deaths as of Sunday. Despite the rise, Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that the state is prepared to enter Phase 2, which includes the reopening of childcare centers, massage parlors, bars, and other establishments throughout the rest of May.

Stock Market Up – U.S. stocks rallied Monday, boosted by hopes for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Drug maker Moderna reported promising early results from a new coronavirus vaccine trial Monday morning, with its shares closing up nearly 20-percent. Additionally, the Dow finished 3.9-percent higher than its best point and percentage gain since April 6, while the S&P had its best day since April 8. The Nasdaq Composite also rose 2.4-percent, logging its best day since April 29.

COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada

These numbers are accurate as of 4:00 p.m. Monday, May 18.

  • There are 7,060 positive cases in Nevada.
    • Clark County has 5,463 confirmed cases. Of those, 4,013 have recovered.
    • Washoe County has 1,266 confirmed cases. Of those, 54 are hospitalized and 672 have recovered.
    • Carson City has 71 confirmed cases. Of those, 44 have recovered.
    • Humboldt County has 74 confirmed cases. Of those, one (1) is hospitalized and 13 have recovered.
    • Nye County has 58 confirmed cases. Of those, 32 have recovered.
    • Lyon County has 47 confirmed cases. Of those, 26 have recovered.
    • Douglas County has 25 confirmed cases. Of those, 20 have recovered.
    • Elko County has 21 confirmed cases. Of those, 13 have recovered.
    • Lander County has 19 confirmed cases.
    • Churchill County has five (5) confirmed cases.
    • Mineral County has four (4) confirmed cases. All four (4) have recovered.
    • White Pine County has four (4) confirmed cases. Of those, three (3) have recovered.
    • Lincoln County has two (2) confirmed cases.
    • Storey County has one (1) confirmed case.
  • Nevada has reported 351 fatalities from the coronavirus. Of those, 296 were in Clark County, 48 were in Washoe County, three (3) were in Humboldt County, two (2) were in Carson City and one (1) was in Elko County.
  • Over 82,000 people have been tested.
  • Further statistical data can be found here: DHHS Coronavirus Statistics in Nevada.

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