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Nevada facing double-bind of rising cases, limping economy – ABC News

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The pandemic has put officials in this tourism-dependent place in a double-bind: trying to protect the economy while keeping people safe.

With the state seeing a record number of new cases, Sisolak said he’s on the brink of imposing new restrictions, but he’s walking a tightrope.

“I don’t want to shut down the entire economy if I can at all avoid it,” Sisolak told reporters on a phone call Wednesday. “We can keep everybody safe and accomplish both ends.”

Nevada’s tourism and hospitality industry has an estimated $67.6 billion economic impact, employing more workers and bringing in more state tax revenue than any other sector. Right now, it’s hurting and Nevada is facing a nearly 13% unemployment rate — the second highest in the U.S. behind Hawaii.

While the governor has urged Nevadans to try to get their groceries delivered, forgo in-person dining and stay home, he’s said he welcomes out-of-state tourists to Nevada. And though he implored residents to consider curbside pick-up, he said tourists were welcome to patronize restaurants as long as they followed protocols, such as abiding by the statewide mask mandate.

But with cases surging, the current measures aren’t working, officials acknowledge.

On Thursday, Nevada reported 2,416 new confirmed COVID-19 cases — a record of daily new cases for the state.

The Nevada Hospital Association reports 80% of hospital beds in the state are occupied and said in a bulletin this week that “current strategies are not successfully minimizing the spread of serious disease.”

In Reno, where one hospital has begun moving some coronavirus patients into its parking garage, the county health officer recommended that the governor limit statewide gatherings to 10 people.

Meanwhile, the governor is facing political pushback against more restrictions, along with workers, businesses and industry groups who have taken a big financial hit and are pushing for stability and some way to hang on.

Sisolak, who is grappling with his own COVID-19 diagnosis, has not offered any details about what measures he’s planning to announce next week to curb the spread of the virus, which has so far infected more than 131,000 Nevadans and caused 2,011 deaths.

While he hasn’t ruled out temporary closures of casinos and restaurants, he has defended the current health and safety practices in place as extensive and said he’d be hard-pressed to make any decision that hurts the ability to welcome visitors.

But the governor and his staff have offered little indication as to what other mitigation options they might pursue.

“I don’t have a strong or definitive idea of what that looks like,” Nevada COVID-19 Director Caleb Cage said Friday.

“We’ve done a stay-at-home order before and we’ve seen the impact on the virus and we’ve seen the impact on the economy that comes from that. And we’ve tried to do a more targeted approach and seen the impacts on both through that as well,” he said.

Republicans in the state Legislature urged the governor this week not to impose blanket restrictions.

In a publicly released letter, members of the Assembly Republican Caucus this week told Sisolak that, while they “appreciate the severity of the situation” they warned that “stricter restrictions will once again lead to declining sales and revenue for local businesses and an increase in unemployment – our state simply cannot afford this.”

After Nevada’s casinos, restaurants and many other businesses were closed in mid-March, the state set a record unemployment rate in April at 30.1%, the highest of any U.S. state ever. Though most businesses have been allowed to reopen, albeit with restrictions, the state’s unemployment rate has for months been among the highest in the country.

The economic hit of an 11-week shutdown of the state’s casinos and tourism businesses this spring was compounded in the months that followed as the pandemic stunted demand.

Visitor numbers and room occupancy rates in Las Vegas in September were roughly half what they were the same month in 2019. At least five casino resorts have some weekday closures, announcing they would not take some mid-week reservations due to lack of demand.

Countless restaurants have closed. Entertainment acts haven’t been spared either. Several acrobatic spectaculars have been among the shuttered shows, including the Cirque du Soleil show “Zumanity” that ran for 17 years at the New York-New York Hotel.

Concert, convention and trade show venues have been capped at 250 socially distant people and were hoping they’d be able to expand and hold large events again. Sisolak in late October said he hoped large event venues would be able to begin filling their venues to 50% capacity in January, but it’s unclear if that target is still under consideration.

The Nevada Resort Association, which represents the gambling and hospitality industry, has been pressing for some kind of roadmap to once again holding large live events.

“The people who plan and book these events — both on our side and on the people who are bringing events here — they need some predictability,” Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine said.

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Metz reported from Carson City, Nevada. He is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Bank of Canada: Vaccine Could Trigger Swift Economic Rebound – Voice of America

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OTTAWA, ONTARIO – Canada’s economy could rebound faster than expected if consumer spending jumps in the wake of a successful coronavirus vaccination effort, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said Thursday.

On the other hand, if the economy weakens amid a second wave of infections, Macklem indicated the central bank could, if necessary, cut already record-low interest rates.

In late October, the bank said it assumed a vaccine would not be widely available until mid-2022. Since then, several manufacturers have announced potential vaccines that could be distributed starting early next year.

“It is possible, especially when there is a vaccine, that households will decide to spend more than we have forecast, and if that happens the economy will rebound more quickly,” Macklem said in response to questions from the House of Commons finance committee. He described the news about vaccines as promising.

In late October, the bank forecast the economy would not fully recover until sometime in 2023, a forecast Macklem repeated in his opening remarks.

The path to recovery still faces risks, he said. Earlier this year, the bank slashed its key interest rate to 0.25%.

“We could potentially lower the effective lower bound, even without going negative. It’s at 25 basis points. It could be a little bit lower,” Macklem said, repeating that negative interest rates would not be helpful.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has a target for its key rate of 0 to 0.25%. The Reserve Bank of Australia this month cut its policy rate to 0.1%.

Some other central banks also have benchmark rates that are less than 0.25%, such as the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

“We want to be very clear – Canadians can be confident that borrowing costs are going to remain very low for a long time,” Macklem said.

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Coronavirus vaccine could help economy recover faster than expected

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Canada’s economy could rebound faster than expected if consumer spending jumps in the wake of a successful coronavirus vaccination effort, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said on Thursday.

On the other hand, if the economy weakens amid a second wave of infections, Macklem indicated the central bank could if necessary cut already record low interest rates.

In late October, the bank said it assumed a vaccine would not be widely available until mid-2022. Since then, several manufacturers have announced potential vaccines that could be distributed starting early next year.

“It is possible, especially when there is a vaccine, that households will decide to spend more than we have forecast and if that happens the economy will rebound more quickly,” Macklem said in response to questions from the House of Commons finance committee. He described the news about vaccines as promising.

In late October, the bank forecast the economy would not fully recover until some time in 2023, a forecast Macklem repeated in his opening remarks.

The path to recovery still faced risks, he said. Earlier this year the bank slashed its key interest rate to 0.25 per cent.

“We could potentially lower the effective lower bound, even without going negative. It’s at 25 basis points, it could be a little bit lower,” Macklem said, repeating that negative interest rates would not be helpful.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has a target for its key rate of 0 to 0.25 per cent. The Reserve Bank of Australia this month cut its policy rate to 0.1 per cent.

Some other central banks also have benchmark rate that are less than 0.25 per cent, such as the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

“We want to be very clear – Canadians can be confident that borrowing costs are going to remain very low for a long time,” Macklem said.

 

Source: – Global News

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As economy struggles, Fed weighs boosting bond purchases – Investment Executive

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The Fed since June has been buying $120 billion in bonds each month to keep downward pressure on long-term interest rates as a way of giving the economy a boost as it struggles to emerge from a deep recession.

The purchases have included $80 billion a month in Treasury bonds and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

With the economy showing signs of slowing in the face a resurgence in coronavirus cases and a return to shutdowns in some areas, there has been market speculation that the Fed could decide to boost the size of its monthly purchases.

The minutes show that while no decision was taken on what to do or when, Fed officials were keeping their options open. Some analysts believe the Fed will make an announcement on boosting the bond purchase program at its next meeting on Dec. 15-16, especially if there has been no movement by Congress to provide more economic relief to individuals and businesses.

The minutes said that many Fed officials “judged that asset purchases helped provide insurance against risks that might reemerge in financial markets in an environment of high uncertainty.”

Concern has been growing among economists that the economy is slowing after an initial rebound this summer and could even topple into a double-dip recession in the early part of 2021 if Congress does not replenish expiring support programs.

At the White House Wednesday, Peter Navarro, one of President Donald Trump’s economic advisers, told reporters that a “sober” reading of the economic recovery shows “we are facing … a chasm ahead for millions of Americans unless there can be a bipartisan” deal to provide further economic relief.

The minutes released Wednesday covered the Fed’s Nov. 4-5 meeting, held just after the November elections, and were released with the customary lag of three weeks.

At the meeting, the central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low near zero and signalled that it was prepared to do more if needed to support the economy.

A multitrillion-dollar stimulus effort enacted in the spring has helped support millions of Americans who have been thrown out of work and provided further assistance to struggling individuals and businesses.

But many of those programs have expired and jobless benefits are due to run out for millions of Americans by the end of this year.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell had said at a news conference following the two-day meeting that Fed officials had discussed whether and how a bond buying program might be altered to provide more economic support.

In addition to increasing the size of the program, the Fed could decide to alter the composition of the bonds purchases to focus on buying long-term securities as a way of putting added downward pressure on long-term rates.

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