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Gov. Steve Sisolak steps away from the podium after an update on coronavirus during a news conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, March 17, 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, you can visit our week one live blog here (3/9-3/15), our week two live blog here (3/16-3/22), our week three live blog here (3/23-3/29), our week four live blog here (3/30-4/5), week five's live blog here (4/6-4/12), week six's live blog here (4/13-4/19) and last week's live blog here (4/20-4/26). You can also see our live blog tracking economic developments from the first week here.

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Sunday state and county update: Coronavirus cases increase to 5,473; five more deaths reported

State health authorities reported five more COVID-19 deaths on Sunday, pushing the statewide fatality toll to 262. Counties, meanwhile, reported that coronavirus cases had risen to 5,473, up 79 from Saturday.

Humboldt County health officials announced the county’s third COVID-19-related death on Sunday evening. The patient, a man in his 60s, was hospitalized at the time of his death, officials said.

The death resulted in the county’s health officer, Dr. Charles Stringham, imploring community members to heed social distancing, wear a face mask, wash hands frequently and not visit family or friends who are sick or in respiratory isolation.

“I ask that every single person in our community join with me in our aggressive fight against this virus,” Stringham said in a statement. “If you are not yet engaged in doing the right things, all of us desperately need your help!”

County officials also announced one additional case in a man in his 20s who is a close contact of a previously identified case. He is self-isolating at home.

The Southern Nevada Health District reported 49 more coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the county’s total to 4,274. The county also reported three more deaths, which means 218 people in Clark County have died from the virus. Another 2,946 people have recovered from COVID-19.

Washoe County officials reported 28 additional cases Sunday, increasing the county’s total to 977. Nineteen other people have recovered, bringing Washoe’s recovery count to 382.

Health authorities in the Quad-County region that includes Carson City, Douglas County, Lyon County and Storey County reported one additional case Sunday. The newly diagnosed person is a Lyon County resident in her 30s. That brings the region’s case total to 103.Health authorities reported four more recoveries in the region as well. In all, 57 people have recovered in that area.

A dashboard maintained by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services also showed that 45,182 people have been tested for the virus statewide, up 795 from Saturday.

— Last updated 5/4/2020 at 10:24 a.m.

Saturday state and county update: Coronavirus cases increase to 5,394, deaths rise to 257 

State and county health officials reported 5,394 coronavirus cases Saturday, an increase of 146 from Friday. State health officials also reported three more deaths, raising the statewide death toll to 257.

Health officials in Clark County reported 4,225 cases Saturday morning, an increase of 107 from Friday. The county also reported 9 more deaths, raising the countywide death toll to 215. 

According to health district officials, 999 individuals have been hospitalized over the course of the outbreak, up 21 from Friday. Officials also reported that 2,854 people have recovered from the virus, or about 67.5 percent of reported cases. 

Washoe County health officials reported an additional 28 cases and no new deaths Saturday, raising the countywide total of cases to 949 and leaving the countywide death toll at 33. 

Officials also reported 20 more recoveries, raising the total recoveries to 363, or about 38 percent of all cases. Of coronavirus cases in Washoe County, 553 remain active, with 48 of those cases currently hospitalized.  

The four-county region including Carson City, Lyon County, Douglas County and Storey County reported six new cases, raising the region-wide total to 102. Officials also reported 3 additional recoveries, raising the total recoveries to 53 and leaving 48 active cases. 

Among the new reported cases, four were in Lyon County, one was in Carson City and another in Douglas County. Three of those cases include people in their 20s, while the other three include two people in their 50s and a woman in her 80s.

Humboldt County health authorities reported five more cases on Saturday, pushing the county’s total to 49. All five new patients had contact with someone previously diagnosed.

The five new patients include a woman in her 40s, a woman in her 30s, a man in his 40s, a woman in her 60s and a man in his 20s. Health officials said they’re all self-isolating at home.

A dashboard maintained by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services also showed that 44,387 people have been tested for the virus statewide, an increase of 792 from Friday.

— Last updated 5/3/20 at 12:32 p.m.

Friday state and county update: Coronavirus cases increase to 5,248; deaths rise to 254

County health officials reported 5,248 coronavirus cases on Friday, up 191 cases from Thursday. The statewide death toll rose to 254.

Southern Nevada Health District officials reported 139 additional COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the countywide total to 4,116. They also reported four more deaths, bringing the county death toll to 206.

According to health district officials, 978 people have been hospitalized during the course of their illness, up 12 from Thursday. Officials also reported that 2,756 people have recovered after contracting the virus, or about 66.9 percent.

Washoe County health authorities on Friday reported 48 additional COVID-19 cases, which is the highest one-day jump in new cases, as well as three more deaths.

Two women — one in her 60s and another in her 40s — died from complications related to the virus, Washoe County officials said. They both had underlying medical conditions.

Washoe health officials additionally reported on Friday afternoon that another person has died of COVID-19 related causes in the county. The deceased was a male in his 70s with underlying health conditions. The county has reported 33 deaths related to COVID-19

Washoe County has reported 921 total COVID-19 cases and, of those, 546 remain active. It’s the most active cases at any point, officials said. But the county also reported 11 more recoveries, bringing that total up to 343. 

Health authorities in the four-county region that includes Carson City, Douglas County, Lyon County and Storey County reported four more COVID-19 cases Friday, pushing the area’s total to 96. Four other people have recovered.

The newly diagnosed include two Carson City residents — a man in his 60s and a woman in her 20s — as well as a Douglas County man in his 20s and a Lyon County woman in her 20s.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation on Friday reported 14 coronavirus cases and one recovery, said Dawna Brown, director of the tribal health clinic. There have been no deaths. 

Brown and Anthony Sampson, chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, urged residents to heed social distancing to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“Our numbers have gone up really quickly in a short amount of time, which means that the virus is moving,” Brown said. “We’ve really gotta take control of that somehow.”

A dashboard maintained by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services also showed that 43,595 people have been tested for the virus statewide, an increase of 1,609 since Thursday.

— Last updated 5/1/20 at 6:51 p.m.

Elko County declaration warns of 'grassroots rebellion' if businesses can't reopen

A strongly worded declaration from the Elko County Board of Commissioners puts the northeastern Nevada county on the path toward reopening, moving into a “Phase 1” plan faster than what Gov. Steve Sisolak has outlined.

Commissioners voted on the declaration Wednesday, a day before Sisolak debuted his multi-phase plan for fully reopening the state’s largely shuttered economy. The declaration, which the county made public Friday, illustrates Elko County’s desire to fast-track that process.

The declaration notes the closures have had a “major harmful fiscal impact” upon county businesses, including permanent closures. It also says the county has flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases and has adequate hospital capacity and testing capabilities needed to reopen.

Commissioners, therefore, declare the county in compliance with federal and state “Phase 1” reopening guidelines. The document’s last line paints a dire portrait of what might happen if the county cannot move forward: “The state must reopen Elko County businesses or face a grassroots rebellion.”

The governor’s plan for reopening Nevada did give counties some leeway in making their own decisions.

— Jackie Valley on 5/1/20 at 5:17 p.m.

Station Casinos plans layoffs, will reopen properties in phases

Station Casinos plans to lay off a portion of its workforce and reopen its Las Vegas-area casinos in phases amid expected lower business levels because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to employees signed by casino Chairman and CEO Frank Fertitta III and obtained by The Nevada Independent, the casino said it plans to open only a portion of its Las Vegas area properties once allowed to do so by the state, starting with Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Santa Fe Station, Boulder Station, Palace Station and Sunset Station properties.

The company’s other four properties — the Palms, Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station — will remain closed even after casinos are allowed to open, in order for the company to “assess how our business is performing in a post-COVID-19 world.”

Fertitta wrote that the phased opening and expected social distancing regulations meant the company would need to make “meaningful staffing level reductions” at both properties initially opening up and those remaining closed, as well as at the company’s corporate office.

“Please know these are not decisions we took lightly,” the letter states. “This has been the most challenging and painful situation in our company’s history. We are hopeful though that Las Vegas will rebound swiftly and allow us to rehire many of our valued team members when we emerge on the other side of this crisis.”

The letter states that full-time employees who are laid off will be paid through May 16 and will be extended medical, dental and vision benefits through the end of September, with the company paying full premium costs. Any employees not laid off will continue to receive regular pay and benefits through the end of May.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said during a press conference on Thursday that casino companies would not be allowed to reopen at the start of the state’s “Phase 1” reopening process, tentatively scheduled for May 15. The governor said any reopening plans would need to be approved by the state’s Gaming Control Board.

Both the Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts have announced plans to continue paying employees during the shutdown through at least mid-May.

— Riley Snyder, 5/1/20 at 1:01 p.m.

Thursday state and county update: Coronavirus cases increase to 5,057; deaths up to 243

State and county health officials reported 5,057 coronavirus cases on Thursday, up 120 cases from Wednesday. The statewide death toll increased Thursday afternoon to 243.

The Southern Nevada Health District reported 88 new positive COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the countywide total to 3,979. The health district also announced six additional deaths associated with the virus, bringing the county's death toll to 202.

There have been a total of 966 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county during the course of their illness, up 16 from the day before. Health district officials report that 2,617 people have recovered from the illness or, 65.8 percent.

Washoe County Health District officials announced Thursday afternoon 25 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the countywide total to 873. The county death toll remains unchanged at 30.

Health officials also announced that 11 additional people have recovered from the virus, for a total of 332 recoveries. Forty-three people are hospitalized, while 66 people have been discharged from the hospital.

Humboldt County reported four additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the county’s total to 44 confirmed cases. They include a woman in her 20s, a woman in her 50s, a man in his 50s and a woman in her 30s. All are self-isolating at home.

The Quad-County Emergency Operations Center reported one additional COVID-19 case in Carson City and another case in Lyon County. The Carson City resident is a woman in her 70s and the Lyon County resident is a woman in her 20s.

The Quad-County region, which also includes Douglas County and Storey County, has reported a total of 92 cases in the area, 45 cases in Carson City and 28 cases in Lyon County.

On Thursday night, Nye County health officials reported one new positive COVID-19 case in Pahrump. The county has 37 reported cases of the coronavirus, and 18 recoveries.

A dashboard maintained by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services also showed that 41,986 people have been tested for the virus statewide, an increase of 958 since Wednesday.

— Last updated 5/1/20 at 9:12 a.m.

Delivering with Dignity to begin serving households in Reno and Sparks

Delivering with Dignity, a program serving low-income, high-risk households, is expanding to Northern Nevada, beginning operations in Reno and Sparks on Monday.

The program, which has marked five weeks in operation and more than 21,000 meals served, is operated in the south by the Moonridge Foundation, the Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation and United Way of Southern Nevada along with 22 other local nonprofits. Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall will head the program in the north, working with United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra to facilitate funding.

“We thought, you know what, this is something that, now that it’s been invented, it’s doing a lot of good, and let’s share it, because every community in the country is going to need something like this,” said Punam Mathur, executive director of the Elaine P. Wynn & Family Foundation. “To get it lifted up, you’ve got to have leaders on the ground who are really committed to it.”

In order to be served by Delivering with Dignity, households are identified by local non-profits as matching its guidelines, housing at least one individual who is considered a “vulnerable population” at higher risk of severe symptoms and qualifying for government assistance. Each household recommended by a non-profit is then delivered three days worth of meals prepared through the four partnering restaurants.

Not only does the program allow vulnerable populations to receive food, but it also helps local businesses stay in operation. Participating restaurants receive $6 for every individual meal and $22 for every family meal they contribute.

“They’re not getting rich,” said Mathur. “But what they can do is have predictable, foundational revenue that allows them to keep their workforce intact.”

Delivering with Dignity does not have plans to expand to rural communities in Nevada, but Mathur, who also serves on the board of the Moonridge Foundation, says if a city expressed interest and had the necessary mass of clients, volunteers, and restaurants, the organization would be willing to assist in implementation.

— Kristyn Leonard, 4/30/20 at 11:13 a.m.

Wednesday state and county update: Coronavirus cases increase to 4,937; Statewide deaths increase to 237

State and county health officials reported 4,937 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, up 116 cases from Tuesday. The state’s death total also increased by 12 to 237.

The Southern Nevada Health District reported 98 new positive COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and ten additional deaths in the county, bringing Clark County’s totals to 196 deaths and 3,891 cases. The county also reported an additional 93 people have recovered from the disease, or about 64 percent of reported cases.

Washoe County health officials announced 14 additional cases of COVID-19 and one death on Wednesday morning, bringing the county’s number of cases to 848 and the number of deaths to 30.

The county also reported 24 additional recoveries from the disease — up to 321 individuals — lowering the number of active cases to 497, down 11 from Tuesday.

 Humboldt County reported three additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the county's total to 40 confirmed cases. They include a woman in her 50s who is self-isolating at home, a man in his 20s who is a close contact of a previously reported case and is hospitalized and a woman in her 30s who is self-isolating at home.

Nye County reported one additional case in the town of Pahrump. Officials have confirmed 30 cases in Pahrump and 36 cases in the county. 

The COVID-19 dashboard maintained by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services also showed that 41,208 people have been tested for the virus statewide, an increase of 909 since Tuesday.

— Last updated 4/30/20 at 8:54 a.m.

Southern Nevada health officials target ‘hotspots,’ look ahead to increased testing in May

Southern Nevada Health District officials say they are focusing their testing efforts on areas that have become “hotspots” for COVID-19 in Clark County, including in North Las Vegas.

Michael Johnson, director of the health district’s community health division, told reporters during a press call on Wednesday that the agency has put together “strike teams” to conduct targeted testing in at-risk communities. That includes targeting ZIP codes that have shown a high prevalence of COVID-19 cases, including a few in North Las Vegas, as well as targeting based on demographics, such as age or race.

Johnson said the health district is also conducting outreach to skilled nursing facilities to conduct targeted testing among their vulnerable patients.

But the health district, he said, is still limited in its capacity to test: The Southern Nevada Public Health Laboratory can run 300 tests a day, with hopes to increase capacity to 400 tests a day. However, he noted that additional lab capacity coming online, such as the 10,000 tests a day University Medical Center plans to be running by June, will greatly increase the availability of tests in the region.

“Collectively there will be a lot of increase and a lot of community testing certainly happening this month of May,” Johnson said.

Johnson also said that the health district has 54 trained disease investigators focused on contact tracing, a number which it hopes to double. On top of that, he said that the health district is coordinating with a Wynn Resorts call center to conduct contact tracing; Wynn announced earlier in the day that it was devoting 70 of its call center staffers to the effort.

“It’s quite an undertaking,” Johnson said, of the contact tracing effort.

Johnson added that the health district lab will be able to start processing antibody tests as well in the next week or so, as soon as it finishes conducting validation studies on two different kinds of antibody tests.

Looking at COVID-19 trends in Southern Nevada, Johnson said that case numbers appear to be “plateauing.” And health district officials said that, unlike in other states, Nevada does not appear at this point to be missing significant numbers of COVID-19 deaths in its reporting.

“When we look at the trends of deaths at this time of year compared to the same time last year, we aren't seeing a large spike prior to this outbreak, as they're seeing in other parts of the country,” said Dr. Vit Kraushaar, a medical investigator with the health district. “So even though we are probably missing some cases, I think our death records are fairly accurate at this time.”

Health district officials have continued to urge Southern Nevada residents the importance of social distancing, noting that cases could still surge again in the future.

“We are concerned that there could be, you know, another — particularly if we have a bad flu season if we don't keep these social distancing measures in place and do this gradually — that we could have not only a rebound of COVID-19 but we could be handling a lot of increased influenza cases at the same time,” Johnson said. “There's a lot of reasons, good reasons, based on our data and lessons learned here and around the world that this should be a gradual phased in process as has been proposed.”

— Megan Messerly, 4/29/20 at 2:22 p.m.

Washoe County likely past peak COVID-19 cases, working to expand testing capacity

Washoe County health officials says the county is continuing to ramp up COVID-19 testing efforts as the state prepares to begin a limited reopening of businesses later this week, even as the peak of COVID-19 cases in the county has likely already passed.

During a call with reporters, Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said that a seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 cases indicated that Washoe County likely experienced a peak in cases around April 15, but that passing the top of the curve did not mean the county was out of danger yet.

“I think that the top of that curve is really the 50 yard line for us, as we're working to try to get back down on the other side,” he said. 

Dick said the county was still working to significantly ramp up testing capacity, including developing plans to work up to 1,800 tests a day through drive-up testing procedures — a significant increase from the roughly 280 tests conducted daily.

The county will also begin to expand testing to individuals in long term care facilities, other health care facilities, first responders and other vulnerable populations regardless of whether they show symptoms of the coronavirus

“We don't yet have a plan for the testing of everybody in the community,” Dick said. “But we do have the plan to move forward with the testing capability that we're developing, and the tests that we've secured from the commercial lab to be able to do that broader testing for those particular vulnerable populations.”

Dick added that the county was still awaiting federal funding for more contract tracing of positive COVID-19 cases, and that the county had observed outbreaks at a variety of workplaces — including landscaping, warehouses and construction companies — but also among unemployed or retired individuals.

— Riley Snyder, 4/29/20 at 1:26 p.m.

Group representing cities, municipalities says it’s excluded from Sisolak’s reopening plan

The Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities says despite repeated requests, it has not been “invited to engage” in Gov. Steve Sisolak’s planning process to reopen the state’s economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association’s executive director, Wesley Harper, said in an email obtained by The Nevada Independent that it had sent several formal requests to the governor’s office since last week for an audience with the governor to “confirm his recognition of member municipalities’ authority to reopen nonessential business in conformity” with federal guidelines.

The letter states that the group will continue to make informal requests to join “ongoing discussions,” and will send a formal letter requesting involvement if it does not hear back from the governor’s office by the end of the day on Friday.

— Riley Snyder, 4/29/20 at 11:26 a.m.

Assembly Republicans, in letter, argue businesses might permanently close if economy not reopened soon

Assembly Republicans are calling on Gov. Steve Sisolak to begin taking steps to reopen Nevada’s economy, a little more than a week after they first laid out a series of recommendations for doing so.

In a letter to Sisolak on Wednesday, members of the Assembly Republican Caucus argued that the state can find a way to protect the health and safety of residents while reopening the economy in a “substantial way.” Republican lawmakers warned that “many” businesses will permanently shutter if “clearly communicated steps are not taken to safely and systematically re-open all businesses.”

“In this truly unprecedented time, there is much uncertainty, however, our mission is one in the same: to come together and lead Nevada out of this crisis in a safe and responsible manner,” caucus members wrote.

They additionally requested in the letter that Sisolak take additional steps:

  • Hire additional call center staff “to answer both general and specific questions about Nevada’s unemployment laws and policies.” Transfer state employees or alter their job functions to allow them to assist with unemployment claims. Allow more Nevadans to qualify for unemployment and create policies to allow businesses to hire and retain more employees.
  • Reorganize the state’s COVID-19 task force to include a bipartisan group of legislators, health care officials and business leaders.
  • Work with county commissioners and local government leaders to “optimize county resources.”

Assembly Republican Leader Robin Titus, in a statement, also raised concerns that private medical practices might be forced to shut down as non-emergency medical procedures have been delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Titus, who is a doctor by trade and Lyon County’s health officer, said that closure of medical practices would create a “second health care crisis” and further strain “our already vulnerable healthcare system and patient access to care.”

On Tuesday, Sisolak announced that the Nevada Hospital Association is preparing to resume some “medically necessary” elective procedures.

In a statement accompanying the letter, the caucus said Nevadans are “growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of definitive timelines or an overall direction for the plans for our state” and that Republicans, who make up a super-minority in the Assembly and a minority in the Senate, “have had very little input into the governor’s directives.”

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Republican Assembly Caucus has attempted to collaborate and communicate with your office during this pandemic with little or no response,” caucus members wrote in the letter. “Although your early efforts to keep Nevadans safe has been appreciated, we have had many constituents come forth with their fears and frustrations over this continued shutdown.”

Sisolak plans to announce his “roadmap to recovery” plan on Thursday.

— Megan Messerly, 4/29/20 at 10:07 a.m.

Wynn Resorts partners with UMC for employee testing, is dedicating call center staff centers to aid contact tracing efforts

Wynn Resorts employees will soon be able to get tested for COVID-19 through University Medical Center, the Clark County-run hospital, at no cost as part of the company’s plan to reopen its properties.

Starting the week of May 4, Wynn employees will be able to visit certain UMC-designated locations to be tested for the novel coronavirus. When Wynn properties reopen, the company says that it will set up on-site testing in coordination with UMC for its employees.

The company, in a statement, said that the move will ensure that its employees who want to be tested “have access to reliable and accurate COVID-19 testing well in advance and leading up to the opening of the resort.”

UMC, in partnership with an Abu Dhabi-based technology company, is in the process of ramping up its lab capacity with the goal of testing 4,000 samples a day by May and 10,000 samples a day by June.

"A vibrant tourism destination relies on our expert healthcare system to care for all who live in and visit Las Vegas, and we look forward to working alongside Wynn Resorts to bring us all back together again,” UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling said in a statement.

Wynn Resorts also announced that 70 employees from its Wynn Teleservices Call Center will assist the Clark County Commission in ramping up contact tracing for COVID-19 cases. 

"This enhanced testing capability and expanded contact tracing, combined with newly available tracking of benchmarks, are exactly the tools we need to keep our employees safe, our community secure, and eventually welcome tourists back to Las Vegas,” Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox said.

— Megan Messerly, 4/29/20 at 9:23 a.m.

Sisolak: Stay at home order to be extended, some restrictions eased on outdoor activities, curbside pickup regulations

Gov. Steve Sisolak says he plans to extend the state’s stay-at-home order but will begin easing restrictions on retail curbside pickup and outdoor activities after the state’s COVID-19 caseload and deaths plateau.

In an interview on Good Morning America set to air later Wednesday, Sisolak told anchor Amy Robach several details of the state’s yet-to-be-published “United Road Map to Recovery,” but that a stay-at-home order set to expire on Friday would have to be extended “a little bit.”

“We just have not reached exactly where we want to get in the downward trajectory,” he said, according to a transcript published by KTNV-13. “Our statistics have plateaued. We’ve got almost 5,000 cases now in the state of Nevada and 225 fatalities so those numbers have kind of stabilized and hospitalizations and intensive care hospitalizations have begun to decline. And so we are looking forward to continue to bring our economy back to life a little bit.”

The governor previously said he’d be unveiling a more fleshed-out plan on Thursday detailing the state’s steps to slowly re-opening its economy, and announced Tuesday that hospitals were resuming “medically necessary” elective procedures deferred amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Riley Snyder, 4/29/20 at 9:04 a.m.

Tuesday state and county update: Coronavirus cases increase to 4,821; Statewide deaths increase to 225

County health officials reported 4,821 coronavirus cases on Tuesday, up 97 cases from what the counties had announced Monday. State officials also reported the number of people who have died increased by six to 225.

Southern Nevada Health District officials reported 12 more deaths Tuesday, bringing the Clark County total to 186. The number of coronavirus cases also jumped to 3,793, an increase of 76 from the prior day. County health officials announced that 2,414 people had recovered, or about 64 percent of confirmed cases.

Health officials in Washoe County reported 14 new cases Tuesday, raising the county’s total cases to 834, and one death, raising the countywide death toll to 29. The county also reported 19 additional recoveries, raising the number of recoveries to 297 and dropping the number of active cases to 509. Of those active cases, 37 remain currently hospitalized. 

Officials also reported 56 percent of hospital beds remain occupied as of Monday, while 45 percent of intensive care beds and 20 percent of ventilators remain in use.

Elko County reported no new cases and four recoveries Tuesday. It leaves the county’s total reported cases at 15, including four active cases and 10 recoveries.

Officials in the four-county region including Carson City, Lyon County, Storey County and Douglas County announced six new coronavirus cases Tuesday evening, as well as three additional recoveries. It brings the region-wide total to 90, including 55 active cases, 34 recoveries and one death. 

Five of the new cases were reported in Carson City, including a woman in her 60s, a man in his 40s, a woman in her 30s and two women under age 18. The sixth reported case was a Lyon county woman in her 70s.

Lander County, which includes Battle Mountain, announced an additional case on Tuesday, bringing its total to seven. Mineral County, which includes Hawthorne and announced two more cases late last week, has a total of four.

The COVID-19 dashboard maintained by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services also showed that 40,119 people have been tested for the virus statewide, an increase of 1,306 since Monday.

— Last updated 4/28/20 at 6:49 p.m.

Gov. Sisolak says some necessary medical, dental procedures may go forward

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced late Tuesday that the Nevada Hospital Association was preparing to resume some “medically necessary” elective procedures in the coming days — the first sign that some restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 may be eased in the coming weeks. 

Unlike many other industries that were temporarily closed by emergency order, Sisolak never issued an order legally curtailing such procedures. State hospitals had instead sought to postpone unnecessary hospital visits on their own, especially as they geared up for an influx of coronavirus infections during March. 

In a statement, Sisolak said hospitals would determine which procedures could be defined as medically necessary under set metrics, including clinical judgment, existing guidelines and the availability of personal protective equipment. 

Sisolak also said a memorandum outlining steps for a phased-in resumption of necessary dental services will soon be issued by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The governor also stressed that medical appointments “will appear different” than they once did, including the addition of screening questions, temperature checks and requests to wash hands or rinse mouths before examinations. 

Jacob Solis, 4/28/20 at 6:05 p.m.

Sisolak to unveil a 'roadmap to recovery' plan on Thursday

Gov. Steve Sisolak said he will be unveiling a plan Thursday detailing Nevada’s recovery, a step that’s been anticipated as other states begin reopening their economies.

The governor made the announcement via Twitter, saying his staff is finalizing a plan dubbed “Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery.” While not divulging details, Sisolak said there will be “many more” announcements between now and then.

“I am able to make announcements this week because so many of you have stayed home for Nevada and helped flatten the curve against #COVID19,” he tweeted. “I am so proud and grateful to all those who have helped prepare our state for this Roadmap to Recovery.”

His directive closing all schools and nonessential businesses runs through Friday. Sisolak announced Monday that Nevada had joined a Western States compact that will involve the sharing of ideas and best practices as the states gradually reopen after the coronavirus closures.

— Jackie Valley on 4/28/20 at 3:26 p.m.

Nevada Bankers Association weighs in on Payroll Protection Program

The Nevada Bankers Association says bankers worked “through the night on Monday” trying to secure money for businesses through the Payroll Protection Program when a new batch of funding became available.

But their efforts didn’t net widespread success.

“Most association members I’ve spoken with reported significant delays and issues with the application process,” NBA President and CEO Phyllis Gurgevich said in a statement. “The (Small Business Administration) boasted 100,000 loans by more than 4,000 lenders for this latest round starting Monday. However, that’s 25 loans on average, and there are more than 5,300 approved lenders. So, their own claim shows that about 20% of the lenders haven’t been able to process a single loan. The question is what has happened to those remaining lenders in processing the loans?”

The association’s statement went on to say bankers had difficulty accessing the system and entering applications — at points receiving error messages or intermittently being booted off the system.

To that end, the association asked the SBA to “invest the required resources” to create a system that allows lenders to fairly access the federal assistance.

— Jackie Valley on 4/28/20 at 2:26 p.m.

IRS data show nearly 900,000 Nevadans received $1.5 billion in stimulus checks through mid-April

After a slow rollout of coronavirus stimulus in the first days of April, state-by-state data released Tuesday by the Internal Revenue Service show more than $160 billion in “economic impact payments” was distributed to nearly 89.5 million Americans through April 17.

That figure includes 892,000 Nevadans, who collectively received more than $1.5 billion over the last three weeks. Those totals place Nevada 32nd in the number of payments issued and 34th in the total amount — ranks to be expected considering the state’s 32nd-in-the-nation population size of nearly 3.1 million. 

The numbers are also roughly comparable to other states with similar populations, including Utah, where 818,000 people received $1.6 billion, and Iowa, where 901,000 people received $1.7 billion.  

Still, the 29 percent of Nevadans who have so-far received their stimulus checks form a fraction of the estimated 80 percent of residents eligible for federal relief under the CARES Act, which provided the funds for the $1,200 economic impact payments. 

The IRS said most direct deposits were completed by April 14, and those Americans still eligible for federal relief would be mailed paper checks beginning April 24. 

The logistical process of printing and mailing millions of paper checks has extended the timeline through the summer, and a leaked IRS memo from early April predicted the last of the money may take up to five months to be distributed. 

The new data comes as Congress looks to negotiate another stimulus package as concerns mount that money from the CARES Act will fall far short of stopping the unprecedented economic pain caused by the nationwide coronavirus shutdowns.  

Jacob Solis, 4/28/20 at 1:44 p.m.

Competition with $1 million worth of investment awards is seeking ideas to keep tourism, hospitality sectors safe

Got an idea for how to make the hospitality, tourism and entertainment industry safer in light of the pandemic?

Then UNLV’s Lee Business School and the Lee Family Foundation want to hear from you. The two entities have partnered to award investments totaling $1 million to entrepreneurs with safety-minded innovations.

“These technologies and solutions must ultimately make the industry safer for both guests and employees of the hospitality or travel sectors, which boasts roughly 330M jobs and an economic impact of $8.9 trillion dollars worldwide,” officials wrote in a press release.

The project has been dubbed the Lee School Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Entries worldwide from individuals or companies will be accepted until July 5. A committee made up of industry experts and deans of several UNLV schools will judge the submissions and select prize recipients, who will then develop their concepts and bring them to a “Shark Tank”-like investor marketplace. The resulting products and solutions must be brought to the market within 12 months.

A website dedicated to the competition suggests a variety of pandemic-related challenges the industries may need to overcome. For instance, will guest pillows need to be disposable? And how do you fill a stadium while maintaining social distancing, or rapidly clean gaming chips?

“Our world has been given a great challenge,” Eureka Casinos’ Chief Operating Officer, Andre Carrier, said in a statement. “It's time for innovators, industry, and entrepreneurs to respond urgently, answer the bell, and deliver the ‘eureka’ moments that will invariably lay the bedrock for the new path forward.”

— Jackie Valley, 4/28/20 at 1:10 p.m.

Urban school district leaders ask for coronavirus relief funding

Clark County Superintendent Jesus Jara has joined leaders from other urban school districts in signing a letter that requests Congress include funding for public schools in the next coronavirus relief bill.

The 62 big-city superintendents who signed the letter asked for  $175 billion Education Stabilization Funds; $13 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; $12 billion in additional Title I funding; $2 billion for the E-Rate program, which provides discounts to help schools and libraries obtain affordable telecommunications and internet access; and emergency infrastructure funds.

“The down payment you made in our public education system by allocating some $13.5 billion in the CARES Act for our schools was a critical lifeline for public education in this country,” the district leaders wrote in the letter. “But we now urge you to provide a second, substantially larger installment for public school systems as you work on the fourth supplemental appropriations bill.”

The superintendents, who are part of the Council of the Great City Schools, say the funding would help offset unexpected costs of providing meals to students and transforming to a distance-learning model. Local school systems are also facing significant revenue shortfalls moving forward.

The Council for Great City Schools estimates that a 20 percent loss in combined state and local revenues could lead to 275,000-some teachers being laid off in large, urban districts alone.

“There has never been a more critical time to ensure that all our students have access to the right technology,” Jara said in a statement. “While we have made some progress in our district, the current closure and the need to provide equitable learning at home opportunities has amplified the technology challenges we face. We must make sure that our students are top of mind at the national level so that CCSD students have access to every possible opportunity available.”

Jara said the district is keeping track of expenses incurred related to the coronavirus closure but hasn’t calculated the entire cost. While food service costs have gone up, the district has been saving money on electric bills by having no activity within the schools.

“Some of those savings may go into some of the other costs somewhere else,” he said.

But looking at potential state budget cuts and significant revenue shortfalls across Nevada, Jara said public schools could endure a “greater loss” than what was seen during the Great Recession a decade ago. The superintendent said he expects to have a better grasp of budget numbers the first week of May. Gov Steve Sisolak previously directed state agencies to begin preparing budget cuts between 6 percent and 14 percent for fiscal year 2021.

Many large school systems, including the Clark County School District, have canceled in-person classes for the remainder of the academic year. It’s unclear what the learning environment will look like for the 2020-2021 academic year, although district leaders have suggested it could include staggered in-person days and blended learning.

— Jackie Valley, 4/28/20 at 1:31 p.m.

Monday state and county update: Coronavirus cases rise to 4,717, deaths rise to 219

Health officials reported 4,717 COVID-19 cases across Nevada on Monday morning, an increase of 77 from the number health officials reported Sunday. The death toll statewide rose to 219 reported deaths on Monday afternoon.

Clark County health officials reported 3,717 coronavirus cases Monday morning, up 52 cases from Sunday. The death toll reported by the Southern Nevada Health District remained at 174, the same as Saturday and Sunday.

A total of 2,351 residents, about 63 percent, have recovered from the virus in Clark County. As of Monday, there have been 915 COVID-10 hospitalizations countywide, up two from Sunday. The health district does not report current hospitalization numbers.

Washoe County on Monday announced another fatality — a man in his 50s with underlying health conditions. The death toll in the county has reached 28.

The county also reported 16 new positive cases and 13 recoveries. There are 38 COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized in Washoe County, which is down two from Sunday.

Officials in Nye County also reported four additional cases in Pahrump, bringing the county's total to 35 confirmed cases. Officials have reported a total of 29 cases in Pahrump.

Elko County officials reported three more COVID-19 cases, pushing the county’s total to 15. No other information was provided about the people newly diagnosed. Of Elko’s 15 cases, six people have recovered and one has died.

On Monday evening, the Quad-County Emergency Operations Center reported two new COVID-19 cases among Carson City residents — a man in his 60s and a woman in her 40s. That means the region, which includes Carson City, Storey County, Lyon County and Douglas County, now has 84 cases, of which 52 remain active. Thirty-one people have recovered, and three patients are currently hospitalized. 

And Humboldt County officials reported one more case — a woman in her 50s who's a close contact of a previously identified case — on Monday evening. That brings the county total to 37, of which five have recovered, two remain hospitalized, 28 are self-isolating and two people have died.

A dashboard maintained by the state Department of Health and Human Services reported 38,813 people have been tested for the virus statewide, an increase of 629 from Sunday. 

— Last updated 4/27/20 at 8:36 p.m.

ACLU calls for more details about testing in prisons, which haven’t moved for pandemic-related early releases

The ACLU of Nevada is calling on police and corrections officials to give more specifics on how they are responding to concerns about coronavirus among inmates as state leaders have yet to take major steps to release prisoners early.

Gov. Steve Sisolak said Friday that he was waiting on the Nevada Sentencing Commission to give more specific recommendations on coronavirus responses, possibly after its meeting Wednesday. But the ACLU argued in a statement Monday that the Nevada Sentencing Commission already voted two weeks ago to ask Gov. Steve Sisolak to convene the pardons board — which has authority to commute sentences — to discuss early inmate releases. 

“We’ve heard from dozens of Nevadans with concerns about the health and safety of incarcerated loved ones, and state leaders cannot keep brushing them off,” said Tod Story, executive director of the ACLU of Nevada and a member of the 23-person Sentencing Commission.

So far, the Nevada Department of Corrections said that eight staff but no inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. The agency has touted its increased cleaning regimens and precautionary measures such as suspending visitation and says its medical staff is equipped to handle coronavirus cases.

ACLU officials, who support reducing prison and jail populations so inmates can socially distance, want the commission to review specific details about testing capabilities and how many tests have been administered. The prisons agency initially said no inmates had been tested for COVID-19, and more recently says it is not releasing numbers on tests administered because the number is in constant flux.

The group also raised questions about apparent delays in Las Vegas police reporting positive tests among inmates and about compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act when minors are held in adult prisons.

“Mass incarceration has always been a public health issue, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the potential for problems — in facilities that struggle to provide medical care under average circumstances as well as in Nevada’s overburdened community health care centers,” the organization said.

— Michelle Rindels, 4/27/20 at 6:00 p.m.

Northern Nevada Veterans Home staffer tests positive, residents all test negative

A non-clinical staff member at the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks tested positive for coronavirus, but all 75 residents tested negative, according to a press release from the Nevada Department of Veteran Services.

The department is still awaiting test results for a portion of its 164 staff members. Seven staffers have yet to be tested and 19 test kits remain at the lab. Testing began on Friday. The staff member who tested positive was asymptomatic, according to the press release, and did not have direct contact with patients at the facility. The staff member is self-isolating for at least two weeks. 

Kat Miller, the department’s director, said the agency is “committed to doing everything in our power to protect our residents and team members from the spread of this virus and will remain vigilant in our efforts to do so.” In addition to testing and implementing screening protocols at the veterans home, the department is limiting entrance at the facility to health care workers.

Seven residents and nine staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Southern Nevada Veterans Home, according to the state dashboard. One resident died of COVID-19. 

— Daniel Rothberg, 4/27/20 at 11:31 a.m.

Nevada joins alliance of Western states to coordinate stay-at-home orders

Nevada and Colorado are the latest states to join a regional coalition coordinating responses to the coronavirus and plans to gradually reopen their economies, according to a press release. 

California, Oregon and Washington were the original members of the Western States Pact.

To consider lifting coronavirus-related restrictions, including stay-at-home orders and business closures, the Western States Pact has emphasized the need for testing and monitoring. 

Other goals of the pact, according to the press release, include focusing on outbreaks within at-risk populations, maintaining hospital capacity for sick patients and addressing indirect COVID-19 health issues, especially in disadvantaged communities.

Sisolak said in the press release on Monday that “the sharing of critical information and best practices on how to mitigate the spread, protect the health and safety of our residents, and reopen responsibly will be invaluable as we chart our paths forward.”

In the past, the governor has stressed that Nevada is uniquely situated, even when compared with other regional states, because of an economy that is largely reliant on tourism. Last week, the Assembly Republican Caucus included joining the pact in its “Framework to Reopen Nevada.”

— Daniel Rothberg, 4/27/20 at 10:33 a.m.

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