In two weeks, Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive to close all nonessential businesses — including gaming companies, restaurants with dine-in service, and bars — to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is set to end, but he says the state isn’t ready to start reopening for business.
While the governor doesn’t have specific benchmarks in mind, he says he’s leaning on advice from medical professionals as well as COVID-19 infection rates, deaths, and hospital capacity to make that decision. “We’re going to take it slow and steady and listen to the doctors,” he said in a press conference.
In the meantime, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman asked the governor to reopen businesses during a city council meeting on Wednesday. She says the measures are “killing” the economy and went on to compare COVID-19 to the common flu.
“Those whom we’ve lost represent less than a half of 1 percent of our population, which has caused us to shut down our entire state and everything that makes Nevada unique,” Goodman said while expressing condolences to the 137 people who have died in Nevada after contracting COVID-19. “From my perspective, we must open our city, we must open Southern Nevada, and we must open the state of Nevada,” she said during the city council meeting.
As of Thursday, 2,559 people tested positive for COVID-19 and 119 died in Clark County, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Statewide, 3,321 people tested positive for COVID-19, and 137 people died, according to Nevada Health Response.
The toll on Nevada workers who lost their jobs has only been exacerbated by the difficulty of filing for unemployment. About 300,000 people filed for unemployment in March, averaging out to about 10,000 people a day, a deluge that overwhelmed the state’s unemployment office call center and website. Unemployment benefits that include an additional $600 per week, part of the federal government’s $2.2 trillion aid package, should start arriving this week.
While self-employed individuals and gig workers can file for unemployment, Kimberly Gaa, the director of the state Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation, tells AP News that those systems may not be in place until May.
To help unemployed people to actually file for benefits, the state set up a system that enables people to file alphabetically, with those whose last name starts with the letters A through K to file claims on Sunday; L through R on Monday; and S through Z on Tuesday. All other days are unrestricted.
• Sisolak says Nevada is nowhere close to relaxing virus restrictions [AP via Las Vegas Sun]