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Nevada Lawmakers Meet to Tackle Coronavirus Budget Woes

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Nevada lawmakers have approved $96 million for COVID-19 contact tracing and expanded laboratory testing. (free-photos/Pixabay)
Nevada lawmakers have approved $96 million for COVID-19 contact tracing and expanded laboratory testing. (free-photos/Pixabay)
 By Roz Brown, Public News Service - NV - Producer, Contact
July 8, 2020

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada lawmakers meet starting today to address unprecedented budget shortfalls, one day after the state recorded its highest increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

More than 850 new virus cases were reported on Monday. Caleb Cage, the COVID-19 response director for Nevada, said more patients are requiring hospitalization, although the cases they're seeing are not as severe as they have been.

"Today's numbers should serve as a significant reminder to Nevadans that this virus is still among us," he said. "Although we are not yet there, we are monitoring the states that have reopened and are now experiencing troublesome overflows in their hospitals."

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are to begin discussions today about the governor's forecast of a $1.2 billion shortfall for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Cuts for consideration include $233 million from health and human services.

Nevada perviously announced it would significantly ramp up its COVID-19 contact-tracing efforts. Julia Peek, deputy administrator of the state Division of Public and Behavioral Health, Community Health Services, said tracing has been a challenge because patients have provided limited information for follow-up, including sharing inaccurate phone numbers or e-mails only.

"And we have been unsuccessful at reaching that person as a result," she said. "We are working to also develop a self-service option for our residents, who can reach out if they test positive and proactively support the investigation of contact tracing."

After Nevada's casino resorts reopened on June 4, health officials warned that the influx of out-of-state or international travelers would expand the need for contract tracing.

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