Nevada Government Affairs & Advocacy Nevada Update – July 29, 2020

Government Affairs Daily Update

July 29, 2020

Our Government Affairs & Advocacy Team is dedicated to keeping you informed and up to date with political and COVID-19 information in Nevada.

State and Local News

Governor Issues Education Safety Directive – Governor Steve Sisolak issued an emergency Directive Tuesday to address social distancing protocols for schools. The Directive reflects Governor Sisolak’s previous acknowledgment at a press conference this week that the State’s COVID-19 plans will be more customized, recognizing different circumstances in the various counties across the state. Highlights from the Directive include:

  • The minimum physical distancing requirement for preschool, elementary and middle school students will be decreased from 6-feet to 3-feet, while the physical distancing minimum for staff and high school students remains unchanged at 6-feet;
  • County schools, charter and private schools may implement social distancing protocols that are stricter than the standards of the directive, but not less restrictive;
  • All students between kindergarten and 12th grade, including school staff, must wear face coverings at all time in school unless medical documents supporting an exemption are provided;
  • Face coverings are mandatory, without exceptions, for all adults in a school setting, including parents, vendors, volunteers and visitors;
  • Students and staff must follow quarantine and isolation protocols when a positive COVID-19 case, presumptive case, or contact with a presumptive case occurs.

Despite the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) postponing all fall high school sports until next spring, the Directive additionally allows for all school athletic fields and facilities to reopen for training, practices, and competitions, while still observing social distancing guidelines.

Special Session COVID-19 Protocols Loosened – As Nevada lawmakers prepare to reconvene for the start of a second special legislative session in the coming days, officials have announced that COVID-19 testing will not be made available to legislators and staff, reversing previous course from procedures laid out during the first special session. According to the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB), the change is due to testing demand in the state and the false sense of security someone may have after testing negative, and potentially loosening their own safety protocols. Instead, diligent precautionary measures will be taken to ensure the safety of those in the legislative building, with individuals advised to act as if they are contagious, wearing a mask at all times while practicing social distancing. Temperature checks will be conducted upon entering the building and staff will practice thorough cleaning protocols in compliance with OSHA and CDC recommendations.

While an official proclamation has yet to be signed by the Governor as of this writing, the second special session is no long anticipated to gavel in on Thursday, with a spokeswoman stating “once the Governor feels confident the session is ready to begin, he will issue a proclamation.”

Washoe County School District Stays the Course – The Washoe County School District (WCSD) Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to affirm its original in-person instruction plan for all elementary school students in the district, with a hybrid of every other day in-person instruction for middle and high schoolers. The nearly eight-hour meeting included discussion on potentially reversing the board’s original decision, after the Washoe County Health District raised concerns about children attending school in-person this Fall due to the alarming rise in COVID-19 rates. “Due to the elevated level of disease transmission currently occurring in Washoe County, our fear is the high potential of the virus spreading to students and faculty, and eventually to our vulnerable populations, where the fatality rate is much higher,” urged Kevin Dick, Washoe County District Officer. The school board’s decision now heads to the Nevada Department of Education, and if approved school will start on August 17, with kindergarten slated for August 24. The board’s decision to not reverse its original course came as happy news to many parents and teachers, 59-percent of which have indicated that they plan to return to in-person teaching despite COVID-19.

Casino Winnings Remain Low – Nevada’s casino winnings were down 45.5-percent during the month of June compared to last year, according to data released by the Gaming Control Board Wednesday. Statewide, total revenue came in at nearly $567-million, a large improvement from the $5.8-million and $3.6-million collected in May and April, respectively. Nevada casinos reopened June 4 after being shut down for COVID-19 concerns. However, the June gaming revenue is a fraction from last June when casinos took in over a billion dollars at $1,040,978,076. Strip casinos brought in 61-percent less revenue compared to June 2019, while casinos in Washoe County fared much better, collecting just 6.8-percent less revenue than in June 2019. Visitation numbers in Las Vegas remain low, as visitor volume at McCarran Airport dropped 76.6-percent compared to June 2019.

Reno City Council Debates BDR Topics – The Reno City Council met Wednesday to discuss potential Bill Draft Request (BDR) topics for the upcoming 2021 legislative session. The City of Reno receives two BDR requests per session. Potential topics proposed by Council members included a ballot initiative to impose certain taxes on residents to be used for operational needs, raising the Residential Construction Tax (RCT) to help pay for Parks and Recreation, and items to address public safety in the City, housing and tenant rights, and homelessness. Council members will continue to discuss potential BDR topics during the month of August, with final drafts due to the Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) by September 1. During the 2019 legislative session, the City used its two BDR requests on a bill to impose a surcharge on telephone users to fund emergency personnel and training devices, and a bill to create a fire protection district. Both failed.

Nevada Allocates Additional Federal Assistance Dollars – Members of Nevada’s Interim Finance Committee (IFC) approved an additional $108-million in federal pandemic assistance Wednesday, with most of the money to go towards supporting lab testing, contact tracing and disease investigation through the end of this year. A total breakdown of the funds include:

  • $85-million for testing and contact tracing;
  • $20-million for rental assistance for small businesses;
  • $3.1-million to support online ordering and home delivery for families on supplemental nutrition assistance.

COVID-19 Numbers in Nevada –

Nevada added 870 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the state total to 45,806. The number of new cases is below the daily average and is the lowest since July 20. The death total also rose by 21 fatalities to 780, above the daily average. The state’s infection or positivity rate continued to climb, topping 10.03-percent, the first time it went above 10-percent since May 11. The rate reached its peak of 12-percent in late April before steadily delineating to 5.20-percent in mid-June. It has been increasing ever since.

Numbers –
New Cases: 870
Total Cases: 45,806
Current Hospitalizations: 1,110
Total Fatalities: 780

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