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Horsford Promises More Help for Constituents in This Week’s COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall

Just hours after Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman again thrust Nevada into international headlines with her COVID-19 denial, U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) held another virtual town hall with Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford (D), and the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD)’s Jeff Quinn. They sought to contrast their discussion of real issues and pursuit of real solutions with Goodman’s surreal cable TV outings this week.

“[Carolyn Goodman] didn’t understand that as you open things back up, you’re going to have more death.” 
– Brianna Keilar, CNN anchor, following fellow CNN anchor Anderson Cooper’s interview with the Las Vegas Mayor

As Governor Steve Sisolak (D) has proposed tentative framework to prepare to reopen shuttered businesses, and as state and local health officials and essential workers have recently signaled that Nevada continues to lack sufficient medical resources (such as COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment [PPE]) to begin any kind of safe reopening at any point in the immediate future, Carolyn Goodman has continued to generate headline news with her increasingly strident demands for immediate business reopenings en masse.

Earlier today, Goodman followed up yesterday’s ad-hoc debate with Diamond Resorts founder Stephen Cloobeck and MSNBC anchor Katy Tur with this response to CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “I’d love everything open because I think we’ve had viruses for years that have been here.” She then offered up Las Vegas city residents as a “control group” to test how many die from an immediate end to social distancing rules, and subsequently admitted, “I did offer. It was turned down.”

The CNN crew were so stunned by Goodman’s callous comments that they kept talking about her long after Cooper’s interview. While interviewing Cooper about his own interview with Goodman, CNN anchor Brianna Keilar said Goodman “seemed so blasé about the severity of the virus.” Keilar then noted, “[Goodman] didn’t understand that as you open things back up, you’re going to have more death.”

“The Governor released his plan yesterday with very clear metrics. […] Everyone wants to be open, but we understand that we can only stay reopened as long as it’s safe.” 
– Rep. Steven Horsford
Photo by Andrew Davey

As The Nevada Independent’s Jon Ralston and the Nevada Current’s Hugh Jackson have both recently detailed, Goodman has seemingly found a way to inflict maximum damage to Nevada’s public health, public safety, and public reputation despite her rather minimal governing authority. During a virtual town hall just moments ago, Rep. Steven Horsford, Attorney General Aaron Ford, and Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick essentially moved quickly to clean up Goodman’s latest mess while reassuring constituents that they’re acting far more responsibly.

Towards the end of this virtual town hall, a constituent asked about Goodman’s intensifying feud with Sisolak and several other prominent Nevadans. Horsford went first and replied, “The Governor really determines the process on how we reopen. The Governor released his plan yesterday with very clear metrics.” He continued, “Everyone wants to be open, but we understand that we can only stay reopened as long as it’s safe.”

Ford then vouched for Sisolak’s authority under NRS 414 to declare a state of emergency and decide when businesses close and reopen. Ford then added, “I do know that the Governor has laid out what needs to be done before we even get to Phase One. We’re not even there yet.” And in another subtle rebuke to Goodman, Ford said, “[Sisolak is] listening to health care professionals. They’re providing his guideposts.”

“Our communities will have the resources they need as we begin the process of coming back online.” 
– Rep. Steven Horsford
Photo by Andrew Davey

Earlier in the evening, Horsford opened the call with an update on the House’s plan to approve the $484 billion supplemental COVID-19 relief bill and his decision to vote for it. On the bill, which includes $25 billion for a nationwide expansion of testing and $75 billion for hospitals, Horsford promised, “Our communities will have the resources they need as we begin the process of coming back online.”

In response to a constituent’s question on the “Paycheck Protection Plan” for small businesses, Horsford explained, “We’re voting tomorrow to add another $300 billion to the PPP program. If you already submitted an application, contact your lender. […] They should be able to continue processing your application.”

And in response to additional questions on businesses being left out of the first round of PPP aid, Horsford reiterated his earlier promise alongside Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) to “fight like hell” to add an amendment striking down the Trump administration’s rule barring most gaming small businesses from PPP aid into House Democrats’ pending “CARES 2.0” legislation. In the meantime, Horsford reassured other small business owners that the $484 billion supplemental bill includes a nearly $60 billion carve-out fund for small businesses in historically underserved communities. 

“I’m not telling anyone ‘No’ any more. If they want to get tested, they should get tested.” 
– Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick
Photo by Andrew Davey

As the call continued, Horsford, Ford, Kirkpatrick, and Quinn took more questions from constituents, constituents seeking answers on everything from nursing home safety to COVID-19 testing availability. On the latter, Kirkpatrick sought to reassure constituents that more testing will soon come online.

According to Kirkpatrick, “I am very confident that by May 1, with the help of SNHD and UMC, we should be able to run 5,000 tests per day. That is the key component to getting us back up and running.” Kirkpatrick then boasted that Nevada should soon offer more widely available testing than harder hit states like Massachusetts, and she added, “We are working on a plan on how to roll this out for constituents. I’m not telling anyone ‘No’ any more. If they want to get tested, they should get tested.”

health care
Photo by Andrew Davey

Later in the call, another constituent said she lacks health insurance after losing her job, then asked how she can access testing and additional services. Horsford responded, “You may be eligible for Medicaid. They cover health care services for everything COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related.”

Horsford then touted his legislation (that House Democratic leaders have since endorsed) to expand COBRA subsidies for laid-off and furloughed workers, legislation that’s since come under attack by some prominent voices on the left as an “insurance industry bailout”. Horsford countered that his COBRA bill simply provides immediate coverage at no extra cost with minimal disruption. According to Horsford, “The immediate issue is Medicaid. If you qualify under the income threshold, it’s free. If you’re over that income threshold, you’ll be covered by my COBRA bill.”

“We’ve been Vegas Strong. We’ve been Nevada Strong. We’ve been through a lot of things, and we’ll get through this as well.” 
– Rep. Steven Horsford
Photo by Andrew Davey

As the call continued, multiple constituents asked when they can expect their “corona checks” to hit their bank accounts and/or how they can ensure the IRS will do direct deposits. Horsford directed them to the IRS’ website to provide banking information and check on the status of their “corona checks”. 

In response to another constituent’s question on when “gig workers” and other “independent contractors” can finally access the expanded unemployment insurance benefits that are supposed to be guaranteed under the CARES Act, Horsford replied, “We’ve gotten assurance that [Nevada DETR is] very close to getting that up and running so you can apply.”

Photo by Andrew Davey

And in closing, Horsford encouraged his constituents to hang in there and contact his office for help in navigating these government agencies and accessing the help they need. Horsford then told constituents, “We’ve been Vegas Strong. We’ve been Nevada Strong. We’ve been through a lot of things, and we’ll get through this as well.”

If you’re in need of medical treatment, contact your primary health care provider first. If you fear you can’t afford treatment from a hospital or doctor’s office, check with the Southern Nevada Health DistrictWashoe County Health DistrictCarson City Health and Human Services, or the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services for resources in your area. For additional aid, check the Nevada Current’s and Battle Born Progress’ resource guides. If you can afford proper treatment and you are fortunate enough to help others in need, please donate to larger operations like Direct Relief and Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, and to local groups like Three Square.

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