CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The U.S. government has approved Nevada's request to declare a major disaster declaration for the state, a move that will unlock additional federal assistance for residents affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Saturday.
Sisolak said he was grateful to President Donald Trump and other federal officials “for their help, which will aid Nevada in responding and recovering effectively and efficiently from this disaster."
The governor's announcement said the Federal Emergency Management Agency notified him of the approval of the request he submitted Tuesday.
On March 12, Sisolak signed a state declaration of emergency, which is a required step to request a federal major disaster declaration.
Sisolak's request asked for help under a variety of programs, including assistance for unemployment, legal services, crisis counseling and mass care and emergency assistance.
Federal help is needed because the public health crisis “is beyond the capabilities of the state, local and tribal governments," Sisolak said.
At least 46 people have died and more than 1,700 have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Nevada.
Most people with the virus experience mild or moderate fever and coughing for two to three weeks. Some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, can face severe illness including pneumonia and death.
Sisolak on Wednesday activated the National Guard for logistical planning and delivery of medical supplies ahead of an expected spike in patients with the respiratory illness.
Possible duties include providing security at testing sites, managing food banks, disinfecting public spaces, assisting in medical screening and running traffic-control points.
State officials said at least 24 children and 11 staff members at Willow Springs Center in Reno, a 116-bed children's hospital that provides mental health and addiction services, have coronavius, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.
One staff member at the facility has died and state health officials were awaiting the results of additional tests to determine the extent of the coronavirus spread at the facility, which has halted visitation and and stopped taking new patients.
“The health and wellness of our patients and staff is of utmost importance and we are taking this matter seriously and cooperating with the state during their review of our facility,” said the Willow Springs’ CEO Andrew Herod.
“We have regular monitoring in place and continue to educate our patients about self-precautions," Herod said, adding that the facility was “in full cooperation" with health authorities “and we will take further steps if necessary to protect everyone’s well being.”