About a dozen sheltering and rehabilitation facilities including hotels, motels, convention spaces, surgical centers and warehouses have been assessed and/or secured by Clark County staff as potential locations that would cumulatively provide space for up to 1,000 beds to be filled and/or secured by coronavirus patients not needing hospitalization.
These facilities would potentially serve myriad patients as the coronavirus spreads across the community: the infected elderly who cannot return to assisted living facilities, the homeless, visitors who cannot travel and others.
"The dynamics are complex and ever-changing, but I believe we are meeting the challenges of this pandemic very well," said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "I personally have toured some of these facilities and we are working diligently to seal deals with various properties so that we are prepared to house and care for all the Las Vegas-area coronavirus patients that we need to when the wave of cases hits us in the coming weeks. I would encourage those in our community who think they can offer facilities to help to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The County facilities will supplement the Alternative Care Facility approved by the Southern Nevada Health District board on Tuesday, said Kirkpatrick, who is SNHD board vice-chairman. The temporary facility will provide isolation services for about 40 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 and will be designed to provide shelter to people who may have been hospitalized and released while visiting Clark County, people experiencing homelessness, or residents of assisted living facilities.
As more people are tested and the case count increases, the health district implemented a text and email-based notification system to assist in notifying individuals who have traveled to areas where transmission of COVID-19 is widespread, or who are contacts of a confirmed case. This notification system will allow people who are not sick but may be at risk for becoming ill to take additional precautions to help keep themselves and others healthy. Updated case information is available at www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/coronavirus.
Local hospitals continue to work closely alongside the health care community to prepare for an expected influx of patients in the coming weeks. "Together we are working to expand testing, maximize bed capacity, and share valuable information and resources with one another during weekly forums hosted by UMC," said UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling. He added that the hospital is working to expand bed capacity by 150 percent and looking at temporary structures as well. Also, UMC is expanding its COVID-19 testing.
On the homeless front, construction began Tuesday on a new isolation and quarantine center capable of serving at least 350 homeless individuals at the Cashman Center downtown. Clark County and the city of Las Vegas are partnering to build and operate the Cashman ISO-Q Complex (ISO-Q is short for Isolation-Quarantine), which will be accessed off Washington Avenue just east of Las Vegas Boulevard. The complex is needed to facilitate the care of the homeless in that area. The complex is expected to be complete and ready for patients Monday, April 6. When complete, the complex will have separate areas for people who are quarantined because they were exposed to the coronavirus, an isolation area for those who test positive and have symptoms, and an isolation area for those who test positive but have no symptoms. Clark County is overseeing and funding construction of the facility, and the city will oversee operations and security. The two local governments will jointly fund the complex. Exactly how long it remains in place will be determined at a later date.
Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck, who oversees Clark County's Office of Emergency Management and the community's Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC) operation encouraged the public to not go to a local hospital unless it's an emergency – to call your physician first. He also reminded the public to call 9-1-1 only for life-threatening fire, police or medical emergencies. He said about 30 retired Clark County firefighters on standby to return to duty if needed.
"Our fire and ambulance services are responding to all 9-1-1 calls at this time, and we are working to put plans in place in the event that there's a surge of calls related to coronavirus," Chief Steinbeck said. "The best thing the public can do now to help with our planning purposes is to remember to use 9-1-1 and hospitals only for true emergencies. We also are grateful to our retired personnel who are willing to help us bolster our ranks if we need to call upon them."
Officials said shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for first responders and hospital workers continue to be a concern due to worldwide shortages, though donations of PPE from resorts, local government agencies and individuals in the community has been much appreciated. Officials are hopeful that the state of Nevada's efforts to secure more gear for the community will be successful.
Additional County efforts are noted below:
Delivering with Dignity: After its first week, 4,000 meals were delivered to vulnerable households in the Las Vegas Valley thanks to participating restaurants Honey Salt and Graffiti Bao and more than 100 volunteers, coordinated by United Way. This week in addition to delivering to homes, meals also are being dropped off at The Shade Tree Shelter and Share Village Las Vegas prepared by reemployed kitchen staff at Zappos. Thanks to Wynn Resorts, 1,000 meals a day also are being provided to Catholic Charities as it continues to serve homeless individuals, families and other residents in need. Delivering with Dignity was organized by Commissioner Kirkpatrick and community partners as an emergency response system to provide meals, as a last resort, to the community's poorest and most vulnerable residents. Nonprofit agencies are identifying clients who most need the program based on key criteria: They are at highest risk for being exposed to coronavirus if they leave their homes according to CDC guidelines; they have no relatives or friends who can help them acquire groceries from a store or community donation site; they aren't being served by any other community agency for food provision; and they are financially unable to meet their food needs without leaving their homes and cannot afford to order takeout or delivery services.
Financial donations to support the effort can be made at www.moonridgefoundation.org. Requests for service or inquiries about volunteering to become a driver are being handled by the United Way of Southern Nevada. To request the service, call (702) 892-2301 or email the United Way at: COVID19@uwsn.org. To inquire about being a volunteer driver for the program, fill and submit the United Way's online volunteer form on its website: online form.
Clark County Department of Business License: As of March 30, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Special Investigations Section and Clark County Business License agents have visited 139 businesses in the county to conduct compliance checks with the Governor's directive for nonessential businesses to shut down. To date, Clark County's Department of Business License has suspended the licenses of 20 businesses for failing to comply with the order. For questions or concerns related to the Governor's Directive regarding essential vs. nonessential businesses, please contact Clark County's Department of Business Licensing at (702) 455-4252 or email the department at email@example.com. The department also has taken actions to help mitigate the economic effects of the closure order on businesses. The department has temporarily waived late penalties and fees that come due through June, and is working with businesses to establish payment plans for renewal fees. Business owners with questions about these changes should e-mail PaymentInfo@ClarkCountyNV.gov.
Clark County Department of Building & Fire Prevention: To help facilitate development activities during the closure of County facilities as a result of coronavirus, Clark County's Building & Fire Prevention Department has shifted to an entirely electronic plan review process and is offering a video inspection program for certain types of projects. All plan submittals to the Building & Fire Prevention Department are being accepted online through Clark County's Citizen Access Portal at https://citizenaccess.clarkcountynv.gov/CitizenAccess/Default.aspx. Revisions to plans can be submitted online through user accounts, and inspections can be scheduled as well. Additionally, the department is offering a Video Inspection Program for certain types of inspections: https://www.clarkcountynv.gov/building/inspection-services/Pages/VideoInspections.aspx. The types of projects eligible for video inspections include water heater and water softener installations, gas line extensions for residential barbecues and fire pits, rooftop solar installations and residential block walls and fences.
Today's news conference was carried live on Clark County Television, which will replay the news conference. The news conference also will be available for play on demand on the County's YouTube and Facebook pages @ClarkCountyNV. CCTV is available in the Las Vegas area on Channel 4/1004 on Cox cable and on CenturyLink on Channels 4 and 1004 as well as in Laughlin on Channel 14 via Suddenlink. Live streaming of CCTV programming is available at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov and www.YouTube.com/ClarkCountyNV. CCTV is further available in Boulder City on Channel 4 and in Moapa Valley on Digital Channel 50.3.