Nevada Law Expands Some Jobless Benefits, Targets Backlog

State's Unemployment Rate Still Highest In The Nation

Associated Press
August 07, 2020 - 5:22 am
 Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak speaks during a news conference on the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building on March 17, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Governor Steve Sisolak signed a law Thursday giving state officials more flexibility to attack a backlog of jobless claims and extend benefits for additional Nevadans out of work in the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Health officials also said they believe they have resolved a problem with a vendor causing delays in COVID-19 testing results. They reported the daily growth in new cases is continuing a slight downward trend since the end of July.

“Data continue to suggest a slowing of growth rates to both new cases and hospitalizations,” said Caleb Cage, Nevada’s COVID-19 response director.

Sisolak signed the new measure in the state with 24.9% unemployment where jammed phone lines, computer glitches and eligibility reviews have delayed payouts to laid-off workers since the onset of the pandemic. 

Among other things, it gives administrators at the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation additional latitude to make eligibility determinations.

The new bill lawmakers passed during a special session this week defines COVID-19 as “good cause” to turn down work opportunities. which allows immunocompromised individuals or parents without day care to continue receiving unemployment benefits without returning to work they consider dangerous.

“This piece of legislation is not a silver bullet or the final word, but there is no doubt that it will help Nevadans for both the short and long-term going forward,” Sisolak said.

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services reported 10 more deaths because of the coronavirus, increasing the overall death total to 900 in the Silver State. Total confirmed cases climbed another 729 to 53,557.

The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus fell by 42 to 901, the lowest number of known cases in hospitals since July 26.

Cage said the seven-day rolling average in growth of new cases is now 1.9%, down from 2.2% at the start of the week.

Previous rolling averages for seven-day periods were:

— 2.3% ending July 31

— 2.9% ending June 30

— 1.4% ending May 31