Clark County is plotting out how it will pay for an estimated $448 million in coronavirus-related costs it expects to incur through 2020, and also establishing a guide on how businesses may reopen safely.
Both plans, discussed at length Tuesday, speak to economic considerations for public and private sectors as they pivot from response into recovery.
Cost of the coronavirus
The county commission was presented with recommendations on how to use $295 million in federal relief funding allocated to it through the CARES Act to cover emergency-related costs.
It has committed $19.1 million, either already paid or under contract, to the coronavirus pandemic thus far, according to a county document. The largest commitment is $5.6 million on the homeless ISO-Q (isolation/quarantine) complex at Cashman Field, which is expected to ultimately cost the county $13.5 million.
Between March 1 and Dec. 30, the period eligible for federal funding, the county expects total coronavirus-related costs to come close to a half-billion dollars, with $121.5 million recommended toward human service programs such as basic needs assistance and emergency shelters.
Nearly $30 million is recommended for emergency medical care and $21.3 million for coordinated testing sites, according to the county.
Certain programs may be eligible through other funding sources such as grants, officials said.
But county lawmakers opted to not yet accept the recommended spending outlined by Chief Financial Officer Jessica Colvin, and instead pressed for further discussion to determine how the state planned to spend its $835 million share of CARES Act funding and to ensure that the city of Las Vegas would contribute to a regional approach.
Beyond the state, the county and city were the only two Nevada entities to receive direct allocations of the funding, while other municipalities must apply through the state. The city was allotted nearly $120 million.
“There’s an expectation as a federal, state and local partnership on this money that the city would ante up for economic development, they would ante up for some regional services and they would ante up for testing,” Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said. She said the same thing in a recent phone call with regional leaders.
The city is expected to address its share of funding during its council meeting Wednesday.
The federal relief funding is ultimately limited in terms of how it may be spent, but county officials said that community and business recovery was a top priority. Colvin presented a recommendation of $21.5 million toward economic recovery programs.
Business how-to guide
Officials hope to finalize a draft guide developed by the county’s economic development and business license departments by the end of this week, acting as a checklist of sorts for businesses as they set to reopen.
On the checklist: Has the governor’s office authorized the business to reopen? Can it provide touchless or distanced payment options? Do certain store hours need to be established to accommodate vulnerable populations? Can any business with vendors, auditors or customers be done by phone or online?
The guide also instructs business owners to remember the basics: Ensure utilities are turned on, contact the local waste hauling contractor to confirm the level of service presently provided, and adjust store capacity standards to meet current social distancing guidelines.
And it also offers recommendations such as developing a plan to clean and sanitize all surfaces, determine if personal protective equipment is needed for operations, and consider posting public health signage and a COVID-19 fact sheet in the employee break room.
Jacqueline Holloway, the director of the business license department, said the county was intent on fast-tracking reopening for businesses, and Commissioner Jim Gibson warned that local guidelines were key to avoid a new emergency and to restore public trust.
“The business community, I think, is looking for this very thing,” he said. “We can’t play the game, ‘guess what I’m thinking,’ at all here. It’s all got to be real clear to everyone.”
The guide, which has been submitted to the state and aligns with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s roadmap to reopening Nevada, is expected to change as state and federal directives do, according to county officials.
For businesses seeking assistance during reopening, call the county at 702-455-6561 or email BLReopeningAssistance@ClarkCountyNV.gov.
Contact Shea Johnson at email@example.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.