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A volunteer hands out food at a Three Square distribution site at Sunrise High School on April 30, 2020. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

With the number of coronavirus cases in the Silver State on the rise, The Nevada Independent will be keeping you up to date on the latest here, both through regular live blog updates and updates to our infographic tracking cases around Nevada. The most recent updates will be posted at the top.

To see previous developments, please read our past week's live blogs:

You can also read our live blog tracking economic developments from the first week here.

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Sunday state and county update: Coronavirus cases rise to 6,952; deaths remain at 350

State and county health authorities reported 6,952 COVID-19 cases across Nevada on Sunday, up 127 from the previous day. The statewide death toll increased to 350.

Southern Nevada Health District officials reported 3 additional COVID-19 related deaths and 68 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the state’s most populous county to 5,366 cases and 296 deaths. 

County health officials also reported 51 new recoveries, bringing the total number of recovered cases up to 4,013, or about 75 percent of all reported cases.

Washoe County health officials reported 54 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the county’s highest one-day increase in cases since the pandemic began. Health officials attributed the high number of new cases to an outbreak at a senior living facility in Sparks (Arbors Memory Care), which accounted for about half of the new cases.

Health officials also attributed the spike to people socializing outside of their homes.

 “It is expected there will be an increase in cases identified as a result of more Nevadans seeking testing as directed by Governor Sisolak,” county health officials said in a press release.

Washoe Health officials also reported one additional death on Sunday, a woman in her 90s with underlying health conditions. Washoe County has 1,256 reported COVID-19 cases and 47 deaths attributable to the disease.

Health officials in rural White Pine County reported one new positive COVID-19 case on Sunday, described as a “traveler through our area.” The county has reported 4 positive cases, with three recoveries.

Carson City health officials reported one new COVID-19 case on Sunday evening, a woman in her 40s. The county has 25 active cases.

Humboldt County health officials reported three new positive COVID-19 cases late Sunday, bringing the rural county’s count of coronavirus cases up to 74.

The new cases include a woman in her 20s and a woman in her 40s who had close contact with previously reported cases, and a woman in her 50s whose case remains under investigation. All three individuals are isolating at home.

A dashboard maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Services showed that 80,637 people have been tested statewide for the coronavirus, an increase of 6,973 from Saturday.

— Last updated 5/17/20 at 4:43 p.m.

Saturday state and county update: Coronavirus cases rise to 6,813; deaths increase to 349

State and county health authorities reported 6,813 COVID-19 cases across Nevada on Saturday, up 71 from the previous day. The statewide death toll also increased by four to 349.

Southern Nevada Health District reported two more deaths and 63 additional coronavirus cases on Saturday. That brings Clark County’s death toll to 293 and its case count to 5,298.

The health district also reported 95 new reported recoveries, bringing the total to 3,962. 

Elko County health officials reported two new positive cases and one COVID-19 recovery on Saturday morning, bringing the county’s total cases to 20. The new cases involve a man in his 40s and a woman in her 30s, both of whom are isolating at home and are believed to be close contacts with previous cases.

Carson City health officials reported five new cases in the state capitol and one additional case in Douglas County on Saturday evening.

The new cases in Carson City involve two women in their 30s, one female in her 40s, a male in his 40s and a female in her teens. The case in Douglas County involves a female in her 40s.

A dashboard maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Services showed that 73,664 people have been tested statewide for the coronavirus, an increase of 1,518 from Friday.

— Last updated 5/16/20 at 10:53 a.m.

Nearly 14,000 claims filed in first 7 hours of system offering unemployment for independent workers

State officials said they worked through the night to get a new system up and running to accept unemployment claims from the self-employed and gig workers.

Heather Korbulic, head of the Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation, said that nearly 14,000 Nevadans had successfully filed claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) as of 12:30 p.m. on Saturday — the first day the program launched. The system went live just before 5 a.m.

Korbulic said the 100-person call center, which is run by the contractor Alorica, was receiving thousands of calls and the agency increased staffing to respond to the demand.

“The DETR team is pleased to see thousands of Nevadans accessing and successfully filing PUA claims,” she said.

The long-awaited system, authorized by Congress as an element of coronavirus relief, is separate from the regular state-funded unemployment insurance system and serves people who have historically been precluded from tapping into unemployment benefits. Payments are expected to start flowing around May 23.

Some claimants reported a smooth filing process, while others were encountering roadblocks. Mike Powers, an independent musician from Las Vegas, said he had trouble because he started to file a normal unemployment claim last week before learning he wasn’t supposed to do that.

As he started his PUA claim, the system flagged his Social Security number as attached to an ongoing claim.

“There is no clear information about how to reconcile. I called and have currently been on hold for 45 minutes,” he said.

— Michelle Rindels, 5/16/20 at 3:20 p.m.

Friday state and county update: Coronavirus cases rise to 6,742; deaths increase to 345

State and county health authorities reported 6,742 COVID-19 cases across Nevada on Friday, up 132 from the previous day. The statewide death toll also increased by six to 345.

Officials from the Southern Nevada Health District reported nine more deaths and 91 additional coronavirus cases Friday. That brings Clark County’s death toll to 291 and its case count to 5,235.

Of those diagnosed in Clark County, 1,416 have been hospitalized over the course of their illness and 3,867 people have recovered. The number of recoveries is down from the 4,305 the health district reported Thursday, but officials said they revised the number “based on more accurate estimates of current hospitalizations after discovering the reporting system was inflating completed discharge dates in some instances.”

However, it is important to note the recovery number does not take into account active cases of COVID-19 who still may recover from the virus.

Washoe County health officials reported Friday that one more person — a woman in her 60s with underlying medical conditions — had died from complications related to COVID-19. That pushes the county’s death toll to 46.

Another 36 people have tested positive for the virus, Washoe County authorities said, bringing the case count to 1,190. Seven more people have recovered.

Carson City health officials reported two new cases in the state capitol and one new case in Lyon County on Friday evening.

The new cases include a female Carson City resident in her 20s, a male Carson City resident in his 20s and a female Lyon County resident in her 30s.

Officials also reported three new recoveries — one individual in Carson City and two cases in Lyon County.

Nye County officials reported two new positive COVID-19 cases on Friday evening, one in Pahrump and one in Amargosa Valley. The county has reported 55 total cases.

A dashboard maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Services showed that 72,146 people have been tested statewide for the coronavirus, an increase of 2,662 from Thursday.

— Last updated 5/15/20 at 6:17 p.m.

Thursday state and county update: Coronavirus cases rise to 6,610, deaths increase to 339

Southern Nevada Health District officials reported 99 cases Thursday, increasing the total cases countywide to 5,144. Officials also reported seven additional deaths, raising the county’s death toll to 282.

County and state reported cases and deaths also raised the statewide totals to 6,610 and 339, respectively. 

Countywide, health officials reported 1,397 people have been hospitalized over the course of their illness, and 4,305 have recovered.

Washoe County health officials on Thursday afternoon reported 22 new cases and two additional COVID-19 related deaths in the county.

The reported deaths include a man in his 50s and a man in his 70s, both with underlying health conditions. They bring the county’s COVID-19 related death toll to 45.

Additionally, county health officials reported 13 recoveries and seven additional hospitalizations. The county has reported 1,154 positive COVID-19 cases, and is now at 534 active cases.

Additionally, health officials said two county employees at the Jan Evans Juvenile Justice Center had tested positive for COVID-19. The county said no children have tested positive for the virus, but out of an abundance of caution the county has tested 57 other staff and 20 children at the facility.

Health officials in Carson City reported five new cases of the coronavirus in the state capital on Thursday evening, and the first confirmed case in rural Storey County.

The cases in Carson City include:

  • Two men in their 40’s
  • A female in her 40’s
  • A male and a female individual under the age of 18

The case in Storey County involves a man in his 40s. 

Positive COVID-19 cases have now been recorded in 14 of Nevada’s 17 counties. The remaining three counties that have not reported a positive COVID-19 cases include Esmerelda, Eureka and Pershing counties.

Last updated 5/14/20 at 6:16 p.m. 

City of Las Vegas allows sidewalk commerce in downtown area

The City of Las Vegas is allowing restaurants and retailers to conduct business on sidewalks in a significant portion of the city’s downtown, effective Thursday. 

According to a press release from the city, businesses will be required to adhere to social distancing “for tables, chairs and other furniture.” 

“Businesses must maintain a minimum of six feet from a ‘pedestrian path’ at all times,” the press release said. “Retail businesses and restaurants will be allowed to operate on the public sidewalk area, during their regular operating hours only.”

A map shows outdoor dining and sidewalk sales being allowed in an area that encompasses businesses between Sahara Ave. and the U.S. 95 and businesses between I-15 and Las Vegas Blvd. The boundary also includes the Fremont Street corridor, stopping at Eastern Ave.

The city has posted additional guidelines and requirements online. Those guidelines said the city could order a business to cease outdoor commerce if the activities violate state orders and regulations. They could also order a business to stop sidewalk sales if they block public access or “present a danger to the health, safety, or general public welfare.”

— Daniel Rothberg, 5/14/20 at 12:32 p.m.

Wednesday state and county update: Coronavirus cases rise to 6,479; deaths increase to 331

State and county health officials are reporting 6,479 COVID-19 cases statewide, up 197 from Tuesday, and 10 more deaths. That brings the death toll to 331 across Nevada.

Southern Nevada Health District officials reported 176 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, for a total of 5,045 countywide. The county's death toll rose by eight, to 275.

Countywide, 1,126 people have been hospitalized during the course of their illness, not including those who died, and 4,221 people have recovered.

Nye County also announced four additional positive cases on Wednesday, including one in Amargosa Valley and three in Pahrump.

Officials for the Quad County region reported one new case — a Lyon County man in his 60s — and two additional recoveries.

The region, which includes Carson City, Lyon, Douglas and Storey counties, also offered an update on the results of testing hundreds of people in the community who are not showing symptoms. Of 1,798 people tested, 1,378 have turned up negative and one person was positive for COVID-19.

But officials say test results for that project are taking longer than expected due to high volumes in testing labs.

Washoe County health authorities reported three more COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday afternoon as well as 16 additional cases. That brings the county’s number of fatalities to 43 and its overall case count to 1,132.

All three people who died were men — two in their 70s and one in his 50s, officials said. Two of them had underlying health conditions.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have recovered in Washoe County rose by 23 to reach 562. However, it is important to note that number does not take into account active cases of COVID-19 who still may recover from the virus.

A dashboard maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Services showed that 66,672 people have been tested statewide for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, an increase of 2,597 over the previous day.

— Last updated 5/13/20 at 5:00 p.m.

Washoe County health officials to partner with UNR on antibody study in Northern Nevada

The Washoe County Health District will partner with the University of Nevada, Reno to administer COVID-19 antibody tests to a random selection of households across the county in an effort to better understand how widely the disease has spread.

Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick, on a press call with reporters on Wednesday, said that researchers will be able to extrapolate from the randomly selected sample with a “high degree of confidence” how many people across the county have been infected with the disease. He said that they plan to collect the samples in June, followed by two additional waves of testing later in the fall and after the next flu season.

Dick again reiterated his calls for Washoe County residents to wear masks when they go out in public to visit businesses that have reopened. He said that wearing a mask will help the county get through Phase 1 of reopening and prevent a surge of new COVID-19 cases.

“Many of us have become accustomed to wearing a shirt and pants when we’re out and wearing a mask is just another element we need to be incorporating in our new normal In order to be able to have a thriving community and a thriving economy,” Dick said.

However, Dick said that it is too early to be able to see the impact of reopening, which started on Saturday, in the data being reported by the state and counties. He said it will be at least two weeks from last weekend before any effects are seen.

Dick, asked whether the health district has identified any positive COVID-19 cases linked to a series of protests against Gov. Steve Sisolak’s stay-at-home order, said that he hadn’t. However, he also expressed a concern that if one of those protesters tested positive for the virus, they might not share that they have participated in one of those events.

On the press call, Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority CEO Marily Mora also shared that the airport would see about 545 outbound passengers on Wednesday, down from about 5,500 on the same day last year but up from a low of about 220 in April. She projected that it could be “years” for the airport’s passenger count to return to normal.

— Megan Messerly, 5/13/20 at 12:07 p.m.

Tuesday state and county update: Coronavirus cases rise to 6,311; deaths increase to 321

The number of coronavirus cases in Nevada as reported by state and county officials is up to 6,311, and there have been 321 deaths.

Southern Nevada Health District officials reported 107 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, for a total of 4,869 countywide. The county’s death toll rose by seven, to 267.

In Clark County, 1,109 people have been hospitalized during the course of their illness, excluding those who died, and 4,133 people have recovered.

Health officials in Nye County reported four new cases Tuesday, including two cases in Pahrump and two in Amargosa Valley. It raises the total cases countywide to 48, including 19 that have recovered.

Washoe County reported another death from COVID-19 Tuesday, a man in his 40s with no underlying health conditions. It raised the countywide death toll from the virus to 40. 

County health officials also reported 16 new positive cases and 10 more recoveries, raising the total cases to 1,116, including 537 active cases and 539 recoveries. Tuesday’s report marks the first time during the pandemic that total recoveries have outnumbered active cases in Washoe.

Officials in the quad-county region, which includes Carson City, Douglas County, Lyon County and Storey County, reported three additional cases, bringing the region's total confirmed cases to 127. Officials confirmed two Carson City cases, a male resident under the age of 18 and a male resident in his 80s. The third case was a female Lyon County resident in her 20s.

Humboldt County officials reported two additional cases, bringing the county total to 71. Officials reported that a man in his 50s and a man in his 30s tested positive for COVID-19. Both are self-isolating.

A dashboard maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Services showed that 64,075 people have been tested statewide for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, an increase of 3,991 over the previous day.

That marks the largest number of people tested in a single day in Nevada since the pandemic began. It also means that people testing positive for COVID-19 account for 9.85 percent of all people tested in Nevada to date — putting the state below the 10 percent positive threshold that the World Health Organization recommends before jurisdictions reopen their economies.

Nevada reopened more of its businesses on Saturday, including hair salons, dine-in restaurants and retail establishments.

— Last updated 5/12/20 at 5:53 p.m.

Independent workers sue, say Nevada too slow in implementing gig worker unemployment program 

A massage therapist and an exotic dancer are suing the state, saying it’s taking too long to get an unemployment benefits system up and running for independent contractors.

Reno lawyer Mark Thierman said Tuesday that he filed the lawsuit in Washoe County’s 2nd District Court on behalf of massage therapist Amethyst Payne and “adult interactive cabaret performer” Iris Podesta-Mireles, who are expected to qualify for the forthcoming Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program approved by Congress in late March. He said his clients, whose jobs are both considered non-essential and not allowed to reopen for the time being, could soon become “permanently destitute” and unable to financially recover.

“Plaintiffs herein are each single mothers of a dependent child living with them and are unable to provide food and lodging and the necessities of life for themselves and their children living without financial assistance,” Thierman said in a draft of a motion he plans to file. “To put it bluntly, Plaintiffs have managed to survive this long basically by begging others for help, but such help is not likely to continue indefinitely.”

Officials from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation have said for weeks and as recently as Tuesday that the program would be accepting applications by mid-May, although they haven’t given an exact date. Plaintiffs want the court to issue an order requiring the state establish a method for accepting applications within three days. 

“It simply does not take six weeks to program a website to accept applications for unemployment ... and to begin payments based upon initial determination of eligibility immediately or to provide a mechanism for speedy appeal of any adverse determination or denial of benefits,” the lawsuit said.

State officials have said the program for gig workers, who are ineligible for traditional state-paid unemployment benefits but qualify for payments under the federally funded pandemic aid package, requires the creation of a new technology module. A DETR spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment on the lawsuit.

A tally of states implementing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs found that Nevada is the only state not currently accepting applications for independent contractors or gig workers. At least seven other states are accepting applications while not yet processing or sending out payments through the program.

— Michelle Rindels & Riley Snyder, 5/12/20 at 7:02 p.m.

Governor extends waiver on rule that people must be searching for work to get unemployment benefits

Gov. Steve Sisolak has extended a waiver on a requirement that people receiving unemployment insurance benefits prove they’re actively searching for work to keep payments flowing week after week.

The requirement had been waived earlier in the pandemic, but was scheduled to kick in again at the end of this week. A warning sent to claimants in a newsletter on Friday prompted concern from some, who see their chances of landing a job as dim with many businesses still shut down.

“While some businesses are starting to reopen, we continue to see the unemployment rate rise and it makes sense to keep this measure suspended to assist Nevadans in continuing their unemployment insurance benefits,” Heather Korbulic, director of the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said in a statement.

The extension is in effect until further notice. Employment Security Division Administrator Kimberly Gaa said the agency would bring the work search requirement back in alignment with the reopening of JobConnect offices in the state, which remain closed but help people get back into the workforce.

The agency also said that it is “well into the process” of implementing a system through which independent contractors and self-employed people can apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. Officials are asking people in that category not to file for benefits until the system is ready to start taking claims — something still expected to happen “by mid-month,” although officials have not provided an exact date.

— Michelle Rindels, 5/12/20 at 6 p.m.

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe distributing CARES Act aid through trio of $6,000 payments to members

Enrolled tribal members of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe will receive $6,000 over the course of the year in three scheduled increments as part of an economic support program approved Monday by the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Council. 

The funds distributed to tribal members comes from the federal aid allocated for tribal communities in the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Support (CARES) Act. 

“The economic support program will financially support enrolled members directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and alleviate the hardships endured now and through the end of the threat of COVID-19,” the tribe said in the announcement online. 

Members must be at least 18 years old as of May 11, 2020 to receive the first wave of funds scheduled for May 25 through May 29. The last two distributions are scheduled for August 24 and December 1. 

“The remaining funds will be allocated to fund the best mitigation practices of COVID-19 to our Tribal membership, communities, and Government Administration services,” the tribe said.

— Jazmin Orozco-Rodriguez, 5/12/20 at 10:30 a.m.

Monday state and county update: Coronavirus cases rise to 6,152; deaths increase to 312

State and county health officials reported 6,152 COVID-19 cases on Monday, up 32 from the previous day. They also reported that six more people had died, bringing the death toll to 312.

Southern Nevada Health District officials reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, for a total of 4,762 countywide. The county's death toll did not increase, remaining at 260, though reporting of new cases and deaths can lag over the weekend.

Countywide, 1,327 people have been hospitalized during the course of their illness and 3,998 people have recovered.

Washoe County health authorities reported more recoveries than new COVID-19 cases on Monday. Thirty-two people have recovered, while five more have been diagnosed with the virus. That brings the county's case count to 1,100 and recoveries to 529. The county did not report any new deaths.

Elko County health officials reported three more COVID-19 cases, pushing the northeastern county’s total to 18. The number of people who have recovered increased to 12.

The people newly diagnosed are a woman in her 30s who was a close contact of a previous case as well as a man in his 30s and another woman in her 20s, health authorities said. The latter two cases are under investigation. All three people are self-isolating at home.

The Quad-County region, which includes Carson City, Storey County, Lyon County and Douglas County, also reported three new cases Monday. That moves the region’s total case count to 124.

Two of the new cases are Lyon County residents — a man in his 40s and a man in his 20s — while the third is a Carson City resident in his 30s. No other information was provided about their conditions.

On Monday evening, Humboldt County health officials reported two new additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s total number of cases up to 69 cases.

The new two cases include a male teenager and a woman in her 30s, both of whom are self-isolating at home and had contact with a previously reported case. The county has 52 active cases, 13 recoveries and three deaths (one previously reported case has relocated to his home state). 

Additionally, Humboldt County officials reported that starting on Thursday, community-based testing for the coronavirus will be available to all county residents free of charge. The county is receiving 2,000 testing kits, and healthcare workers and first responders will have first priority on testing.

Lander County also reported two cases Monday, raising the countywide total to 19. Of those cases, officials said 17 continue to isolate, one has recovered and one case’s location remains unknown.

A dashboard maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Services showed that 60,084 people have been tested statewide for COVID-19, an increase of 1,275 over the previous day.

— Last updated 5/11/20 at 9:59 p.m.

DETR to receive additional flexibility in hiring to process unemployment applications, claims under new emergency directive

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency directive Monday morning allowing the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to hire additional staff on a contract basis to help process the state’s backlog of unemployment insurance claims.

The directive, which will remain in effect until the state of emergency has ended, will allow DETR to hire temporary staff, rehire retirees or other former employees and take other action to process unemployment applications and claims. The agency will now be allowed to quickly make hires on a “non-merit” basis, instead of having to fill the positions based on merit as recommended by the state Division of Human Resource Management.

Heather Korbulic, the new head of DETR, said in a statement that the move will allow the agency the “flexibility” needed to hire staff to get benefits to Nevadans in a “timelier fashion.” The state has struggled to process an unprecedented number of unemployment insurance applications as many businesses shuttered amid stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We are excited to now have the ability to move forward on hiring the critical staff needed to assist in processing the record number of unemployment insurance claims,” Korbulic said.

Sisolak, in a statement, said the move would help DETR “onboard more staff quickly to help bring insurance benefits to more Nevadans faster.”

— Megan Messerly, 5/11/20 at 8:48 a.m.

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