Hear from the owners of local Reno businesses who have been able to open their doors to customers as the state loosens its COVID-19 restrictions. Reno Gazette Journal
Gov. Steve Sisolak is urging Nevadans to remain vigilant in the fight against coronavirus, even as the state slowly lifts a lengthy lockdown on many nonessential businesses.
Sisolak, speaking during a Friday, May 15, press conference in Carson City, said the Silver State was now on Day 20 of a downward trend in confirmed COVID-19 cases. Hospitals, too, have reported continued declines in new patients.
That means the state remains on track to enter the next stage of its virus recovery plan sometime in the next few weeks, though Sisolak warned residents not to get complacent about the deadly disease after last week’s limited reopening of restaurants, retail stores, barber shops, hair salons and some brewpubs.
“We must all continue to take this virus seriously,” Sisolak said. “What we do now will determine what we can do next. That’s why compliance is so extremely important.”
Sisolak last week said Nevada had started the first phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan several days ahead of schedule, prompting officials to soften a mid-March shutdown on certain nonessential businesses. He is yet to offer a firm timeline for moving on to the second phase of the reopening blueprint.
No additional openings likely until May 30
The first-term Democrat has said he does not expect to open additional businesses until May 30, and has not ruled out reinstating stricter virus-prevention protocols if there’s a spike in new COVID-19 cases or hospitalizations.
Virus-related travel and social distancing restrictions have decimated the state’s tourism-driven economy in recent weeks, prompting huge waves of casino worker layoffs that continue to overwhelm the state’s unemployment office.
Casino resort closures have also stanched the flow of crucial sales and gaming taxes that pay for most of Nevada’s budget, threatening huge chunks of cash promised to thousands of teachers, health care workers and corrections officers.
State leaders on Thursday drained the Legislature’s rainy day fund to help fill a $911 million, coronavirus-shaped hole in the state’s spending plan.
The massive $401 million transfer left Nevada with less than $120 million for other unanticipated expenditures and revenue shortfalls — enough to cover a little more than one week of budgeted expenses.
State agencies have also been asked to trim up to $687 million from their two-year spending plans as officials brace for a near-total loss of expected tourism and gaming tax revenues.
Susan Brown, Sisolak’s budget director, on Wednesday said her office was still sifting through those proposals, and could not immediately provide requested details on likely budget reductions.
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The governor first declared a statewide fiscal emergency on Monday, when he said he would continue to work closely with state lawmakers on “the timing of any potential special session” meant to address ongoing financial woes.
Members of a legislative oversight committee are expected to approve the emergency transfer of rainy day funds on Monday.
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