Sisolak: Nevadans doing well in first week of Phase 1; no timeline yet on Phase 2 |

Sisolak: Nevadans doing well in first week of Phase 1; no timeline yet on Phase 2

Geoff Dornan

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak steps away from the podium after an update on coronavirus during a news conference in Las Vegas on March 17.
Photo: Jeff Scheid / The Nevada Independent)

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Gov. Steve Sisolak said Friday he is proud that the vast majority of Nevadans and businesses are taking coronavirus restrictions seriously and complying with the rules as the state begins reopening its economy.

The state on Friday was in day 20 of a downward trajectory with just 9 percent of those tested coming back positive. He said that is far better than the 12.5 percent at the peak a few weeks back.

When it comes to the economy, how quickly Nevada moves to Phase 2 of the reopening, Sisolak said, depends on Nevadans and businesses continuing to follow restrictions, including social distancing, hand washing and employers wearing masks.

Sisolak emphasized that wearing masks is critical to the progress the state has achieved so far and urged everyone to wear one when out.

He said the state and local officials are also moving forward with enforcement, looking for violators. He said some are not in compliance but promised that, for those businesses, “there will be repercussions as a result of that,” because, he said, those businesses are putting everyone at risk.

State and local regulators have made it clear businesses that flout the rules could face fines, restrictions and even the loss of their business licenses.

He said the division of Industrial Relations reports to him that the majority of businesses are in compliance with the restrictions he outlined for Phase 1 on May 7.

He said he and his team of experts will need at least two full weeks of data to analyze if it is safe to move forward and further ease restrictions.

Sisolak declined to give reporters an idea of what Phase 2 reopening rules would look like, saying he is working through that with his team of experts. He said businesses and many others are providing their recommendations as they prepare those rules.

He said the goal is to, “continue opening the Nevada economy in a safe and responsible manner.”

Nevada’s insured unemployment balloons to 23.5 percent

Earlier Friday, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation reported that initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by almost 7,000 to 21,635 for the week ending May 9.

It marked the second consecutive decrease in initial claims. However, officials point out that 440,744 people have filed initial claims in the past nine weeks following Sisolak’s March 17 order to close most businesses in the state.

Continuing claims for benefits are now up to 324,444 for the week ending May 9, according to DETR, which raises the state’s insured unemployment rate to 23.5 percent, the highest in state history. Continuing claims are the current number of unemployed who are filing weekly for benefits.

Nevada to drain $410 million Rainy Day Fund to deal with pandemic

A day earlier, during a 10-minute emergency meeting, the Nevada Board of Examiners on Thursday approved transferring the state’s $401 million Rainy Day Fund into the General Fund, where it can be used to offset spiraling revenues created by the COVID-19 shutdown.

Earlier in the week, Sisolak declared a state of fiscal emergency, projecting a shortfall somewhere between $741 million and $911 million for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, with a big hit coming from the loss in gaming taxes.

One of the reasons for transferring the entire Rainy Day Fund all at once, Sisolak said, is because of a projection that the state’s Ending Fund Balance will drop to just $120 million because of the lack of revenue.