We are beginning to look toward making a way back to our normal lives. More likely, we will find ways to a new normal. It does not appear it will be done quickly as the COVID-19 virus threat still exists.
There is some good news in that the number of people hospitalized due to the disease has decreased slightly. New treatments are being tested and more is known about the disease. Most importantly are the efforts and sacrifices you have been making to reduce the spread of the disease.
The city has been able to reopen some recreational facilities such tennis courts, pickleball courts and golf courses. Those actions should not be taken to mean the all-clear message has been sounded.
We all need to maintain a 6-foot distance from others when we are in public. Masks or face coverings should also be worn when you have a need to be out in public where the 6-foot distance cannot be maintained. While wearing masks is not mandatory, I am seeing more stores and service providers requiring customers to wear a mask or face covering when entering stores. These stores are working to protect their employees and other customers.
Some businesses have not yet been allowed to open, such as bars and dine-in restaurants. Many of our local restaurants have worked to provide meals for curbside pick-up and will continue to do so. Other types of stores may also begin pick-up or delivery services for customers. Please check with your favorite businesses to see if they are able to accommodate your purchases.
I do know there is a large amount of stress for many of our residents who have lost jobs or had hours reduced. The process for applying for unemployment insurance benefits has been overwhelmed. For the month of March the number of claims made was 229,211 in Nevada. Last year for the same month the number was 30,067. The number of claims made now accounts for about a quarter of all jobs in the state. This has been devastating to many of our residents.
The state is trying to catch up with the number of new claims. Gov. Steve Sisolak has appointed a new director for the unemployment department and Rep. Dina Titus has directed $4.5 million dollars to hire additional employees and improve computer and phone systems. For people who worked as independent contractors or other “gig” economy jobs, the state has contracted with a service that should finally allow for processing those claims next week.
I do understand people need these benefits now. The benefits will be retroactive to mid-March or when the job loss occurred. There will also be an additional $600 per week in benefits for up to 13 weeks for anyone qualifying for benefits.
If you are having an issue with the system accepting your claim, you may try sending a detailed email message describing the problem to email@example.com.
Our city government is also estimating significant loss of revenue. While our finances are not at the point where layoffs are required there are many other governmental agencies in Clark County that have been forced to do so. The city will be postponing some projects and using reserves over the coming year as the economy improves.
I do want to thank our city employees who have continued their work to keep us safe and providing essential services. This is Public Service Recognition Week. I encourage you to say thank you to any of our employees you may encounter. They are the people that contribute so much to making this community the great place that it is.
Thanks also to all the other employees at the stores and restaurants who have continued delivering service under very difficult conditions. Health care workers at our hospital, veterans’ home and care facilities have worked diligently to ensure the safety of their patients and residents.
I also want to thank all of you as well for your efforts in lessening the impact of this disease. There have been 23 reported cases in Boulder City and at least two fatalities. Please continue to maintain the best practices to prevent a flare-up of this pandemic.
Kiernan McManus is mayor of Boulder City. He is a native of Boulder City first elected to City Council in 2017.