County gets $4.46M coronavirus check
Half of the nearly $9 million in federal coronavirus money arrived in Douglas County on Thursday and the clock is ticking to get it spent.
County commissioners approved a preliminary spending plan for the money that must either be spent or planned to be spent by Sept. 1.
County Manager Patrick Cates said $4.46 million of the money allocated to Douglas County was received. The other half of the funding will reimburse the county for expense.
“I can’t emphasize how fast the clock is ticking on this money,” Cates told commissioners at their Thursday meeting.
The money can’t be used to replace lost tax revenue caused by the coronavirus, but it can be used to reimburse the county for expenses caused by the outbreak.
Among those costs are $3.3 million in actual and projected personnel costs due to furloughs and forced leaves.
The county is working with the Nevada Association of Counties on a small business grant program for $1 million of the money.
That money may only be used for businesses operating in Douglas County with fewer than 50 employees and includes sole proprietors and home-based businesses.
Cates said that would account for 97.24 percent of the county’s businesses.
Also eligible are the county’s two visitor authorities, which could use grant funds for marketing campaigns designed to restore confidence in traveling.
Cates said that might be better left to the second round of funding.
“I think it’s a good idea, but the rate of recovery seems to be stalling,” he said. “We might consider this for the second round of funding from the state.”
Another possibility is using up to $750,000 for nonprofits and requests from the East Fork Fire Protection District.
The county also plans to spend $500,000 for expenditures to increase the mobility of county employees, including laptops and other technology that would allow them to work from home.
Douglas County experienced its first case of coronavirus, a woman in her 30s, on March 18.
In response to the virus, Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered nonessential businesses closed on March 17. The state reopened casinos and other businesses on June 1, but since then there has been a surge in cases.
In the first three months of the outbreak, on June 18, Douglas only reported 48 cases total and was only seeing one or two new cases a day. By July 17, the county’s total number of cases had doubled to 98 and by Thursday it had nearly doubled again to 194 with 38 active cases.