LAS VEGAS (AP) — More than 2,500 health care providers and hospitals in Nevada were expected to begin receiving $241.5 million on Friday in the first disbursement of federal coronavirus response aid, authorities said.
The funds come from $100 billion allocated by Congress to support health care facilities dealing with COVID-19.
“Coming off a very grim week nationwide, this is welcome news to our nation’s health care providers, medical professionals and first responders,” U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, a Republican, said in a statement as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reported in Nevada topped 2,500. At least 86 people have died, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Most people with the virus experience mild or moderate fever and coughing for up to three weeks. Older people and those with existing health problems can face severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Health care providers getting federal coronavirus assistance can’t seek out-of-pocket payments from insured patients greater than what the patient would pay for in-network treatment, said U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat.
U.S. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen said $6.25 million in grants will go to eight community health centers for COVID-19 prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
The federal funds began arriving on a day that state unemployment officials said the more than 79,000 claims filed for jobless benefits last week was the second highest total in state history.
A record 93,000 applications were reported three weeks ago, after Gov. Steve Sisolak in mid-March ordered nonessential businesses shut down to prevent groups of people gathering and spreading the disease.
The spike is more dramatic after Nevada unemployment dropped to 3.6% in February, the lowest in state history.
Since then, the state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation has been hit with a tsunami of applications following the closure of casinos, restaurants, gyms and other storefronts.
In three weeks, nearly 245,000 people filed for jobless benefits, or more than 17% of the state workforce of more than 1.4 million, according to state jobs office figures.
In other developments:
— Washoe County's health district officer on Friday directed owners of all short-term rental properties to inform renters they must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The order applies to Reno-Sparks as well as the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe's north shore near California. The governor's had earlier ordered any visitors or residents returning to Nevada self-quarantine for 14 days.
— The Trump administration has awarded a $500 million contract to produce ventilators to a Switzerland-based company with offices in Reno. Rep. Amodei announced Friday the contract awarded to Hamilton Medical Corp. has allowed the company to build its first factory in Reno, which is expected to start producing ventilators before the end of the month for the U.S. national stockpile.
— Nevada prison officials released details about a work program at a corrections center in Carson City that has inmates producing thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer a day, plus protective clothing and masks for use by Nevada police and medical first responders and corrections officers. Prisons chief Charles Daniels said the intent was to meet an urgent demand for personal protective equipment. A prisons spokesman said the nearly 12,900 inmates in Nevada's 18 corrections facilities are allotted one bottle of hand sanitizer, with refills accounted for.
Associated Press writers Ken Ritter and Michelle L. Price in Las Vegas and Scott Sonner in Reno contributed to this report.