Coronavirus deaths in Nevada top 100; Burning Man canceled
Nevada’s death toll from the coronavirus has topped 100 as the sweeping impacts of the outbreak across the state now include cancellation of the annual Burning Man festival.
The state’s coronavirus website as of Saturday morning listed 2,700 cases statewide with 102 deaths, but the health districts for metro Las Vegas and metro Reno City together reported 106 deaths.
Burning Man Project officials on Friday announced cancellation of the annual event that was scheduled to be held Aug. 30 to Sept. 7 in the northern Nevada desert.
Organizers of Burning Man, a lifestyle and entertainment gathering that typically attracts 80,000 people, said in a Facebook post the cancellation was “in the interest of the health and well-being of our community.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” organizers said in an online journal post. “Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too.”
Organizers said they were committed to providing refunds for tickets already purchase They asked purchasers to consider foregoing refunds because the organization faces layoffs, pay cuts and other belt-tightening measures.
In other coronavirus developments:
— A formation of five F-16 jets from the U.S. Air Force’s flight demonstration squadron, the Thunderbirds, performed a flyover across metro Las Vegas on Saturday as a tribute to health care workers, emergency responders and essential personnel working during the pandemic.
“It is an honor to fly for the Americans at the forefront of our nation’s fight against the coronavirus,” Lt. Col. John Caldwell, the Thunderbirds commander and leader, said in a statement before the event.
The v-shaped formation’s route took the jets over hospitals and a new NFL stadium under construction as another aircraft flew off to the side and behind.
Residents were urged to view the event from their homes while practicing social distancing. Several photos posted on social media appeared to be taken in neighborhoods where the visible streets were empty.
Other photos showed people in small clusters along a street on the city’s outskirts and across a large vacant lot bordered by numerous parked cars.
— The state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said its unemployment insurance website would be offline Saturday from 1 p.m. to midnight so technicians could make upgrades to implement changes to accommodate federal aid provided in response to the pandemic.
Nevada’s unemployment benefits system has struggled to handle a flood of unemployment claims resulting from layoffs by casinos and other employers.
— The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Friday it was eliminating 112 part-time positions, including 103 currently filled, in response to declines in government revenue as a result of the outbreak.
— The state Department of Veterans announced eight employees at the Southern Nevada State Veterans Home in Boulder City have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. Six residents previously tested positive and one died in late March after being admitted to a hospital. More than 200 employees were tested at the facility.
— The state Board of Regents approved cuts that could save the state System of Higher Education about $125 million in spending while increasing additional student fees and bringing faculty furloughs, the Las Vegas Sun reported. The cuts include $27 million this year and up to $97.4 million next year. The budget reduction comes after Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered agencies to reduce their budgets to combat the expected economic effects caused by the coronavirus.