Associated Press

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AP Photo/Paul Sancya

NEW YORK — The billions of dollars in coronavirus relief targeted at small businesses may not prevent many of them from ending up in bankruptcy court.

AP Photo/John Locher

LAS VEGAS — Slot machines are powered down, casinos boarded up and barricaded.

Sidewalks are largely deserted and electronic marquees that once flashed neon calls for nightclubs, magic shows and topless revues instead beam somber messages of safety.

The famous fountains of the Bellagio casino, where water choreographed to lights and music shoots hundreds of feet in the air, are still. Throngs of visitors who made it tough to maneuver on sidewalks have been replaced by the occasional jogger or skateboarder.

On the always busy, always noisy, never sleeping Las Vegas strip, you can now hear birds chirping.

“It’s crazy,” said Chris Morehouse, a 70-year-old Elvis impersonator who spent a recent afternoon sipping Miller High Life and posing with a few locals who took advantage of the eerie silence to take photos at the neon-bedecked welcome sign on the Las Vegas Strip. “It’s like the end of the world.”

Instead of hosting throngs of visitors for one of the busiest seasons of the year, with March Madness drawing swarms to sportsbooks, or the now-scuttled plan to host the NFL draft this weekend, ferrying players in boats to a red carpet stage on the Bellagio lake, Las Vegas is trying to survive.

Nevada’s tourism, leisure, hospitality and gambling industry accounts for one in three jobs in the state - making the state more dependent on tourism than Alaska on oil.

Workers are expected to lose $7.7 billion in wages and salaries over the next 18 months if the tourism industry is shuttered between 30 and 90 days, according to a study from the Nevada Resort Association.

With the industry effectively closed for more than five weeks now, more than 343,000 residents have filed for unemployment, and state and local governments could lose more than $1 billion in tax revenues.

The politically independent mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, has issued public pleas calling for the Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak to end the statewide shutdown of casinos and non-essential businesses, which she calls “total insanity.”

“For heaven’s sake,” Goodman said at an April city council meeting, “being closed is killing us already, and killing Las Vegas, our industry, our convention and tourism business that we have all worked so hard to build.”

Sisolak has declined to give a date for when he’ll start easing restrictions, saying the state has to see at least two weeks of declines in deaths and new cases, along with more widespread testing and tracking, with before he will start gradually easing rules.

Sisolak said in an interview on CNN Wednesday night that he didn’t want workers to have to choose between their paycheck and their life and noted that the casino workers’ union has reported 11 deaths among its ranks due to the virus.

“We will rebuild our economy. Las Vegas will continue to thrive. But I can’t do that if I lose more people,” he said.

For most people, the 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. The vast majority of people recover.

So far, the casino closures are expected to extend at least into May, leaving workers like Kimberly Ireland struggling to find a way to hang on.

The 49-year-old was laid off from her job as a bell desk dispatcher at the Mirage casino-resort, where she worked for a decade.

She’s living off her savings and the unemployment, and also supporting her adult daughter, who is on an unpaid maternity leave, and a new grandson, who was born days after the casinos were shuttered.

“Money is running out. It’s getting low for the majority of us,” she said.

Ireland said workers at her casino weren’t given any guidance about when they’d be back or what it might be like then they return. For now, she doesn’t think Las Vegas is ready.

“Everybody wants to get back to business. Everybody wants to get back to semi-normal,” she said. “I just don’t think it’s safe.”

Victor Chicas, a restaurant server in the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel, was facing foreclosure on his home before the virus shut down the city and the 54-year-old was laid off.

He immediately ended his cable and internet service to cut his expenses and drained his swimming pool to trim his electric bill. He’s still waiting to find out if his home loan modification will be approved and if he’ll get a chance to try to keep his house, while also supporting his sister and her two children, who immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala.

“Now when we come back,” he said, “I’m going to be underwater.”

Like Ireland, said he wishes his employer would pay him through the shutdown but disagrees with the mayor’s call to reopen Las Vegas.

“Life is more important than anything else,” he said. “You’re not going to buy life with money.”

While about 24% of the state’s workforce has filed for unemployment benefits since March 21, that doesn’t include waves of others who haven’t been able to get through the overburdened system. Nor does it include the self-employed and gig workers, who are newly eligible for benefits under a federal aid package that the state is scrambling to accommodate. Nevada officials say the state may not have a website ready for them to seek benefits until mid-May.

Those who rely on the amusements of Las Vegas in non-traditional ways are trying to find a way to endure.

Wearing a white, rhinestone-studded jumpsuit, a thick black wig, a gold chain shining on his bare chest and sunglasses to match, Morehouse, the Elvis impersonator, has seized on the sunny weather and the restless locals visiting one of the few tourist attractions still open amid the COVID-19 outbreak--the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. He’s brought a speaker to perform karaoke and a few cans of beer, which he sips as he sings and sways in the open-air park as people in groups of twos and threes still come up to take a photo with the sign.

While foot traffic is light, Morehouse hopes he might lure curious drivers to pullover.

“They see an Elvis here. They think something’s going on,” he said. “I’m like the sign.”

At dusk falls and dim lights start glow, many locals slowly drive several miles of the Strip, with their car windows rolled down and phones raised to photograph and film America’s most flamboyant party reduced to a vacant, muted spectacle, a post-apocalyptic remnant of a time before social distancing and stay-at-home orders, when excess and wild attractions were the main draw.

Metropolitan Opera via AP

NEW YORK — Javier Camarena was at his home in Zurich singing an aria from Bellini’s “Il Pirata” when the screen for the video feed split, and he was joined by Metropolitan Opera music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in Montreal and general manager Peter Gelb in New York.

Mass Communication Specialist Julio Rivera/U.S. Navy via AP

WASHINGTON — With limited supplies of coronavirus tests available, the Pentagon is focusing first on testing those performing duties deemed most vital to national security. Atop the list are the men and women who operate the nation's nuclear forces, some counterterrorism forces, and the crew of a soon-to-deploy aircraft carrier.

AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

BARCELONA, Spain — Shrieks of joy rang out in the streets of Spain as children were allowed to go outside and play Sunday for first time in six weeks, while people in Italy and France were eager to hear their leaders' plans for easing some of the world's strictest coronavirus lockdowns.

AP Photo/David Zalubowski

ATLANTA — As the global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 200,000 on Saturday, countries took cautious steps toward easing lockdowns imposed amid the pandemic, but fears of a surge in infections made even some outbreak-wounded businesses reluctant to reopen.

AP Photo/LM Otero

Eight men were sexually abused when they were Boy Scouts in Hawaii in the 1960s and 1970s, they alleged in a lawsuit filed Friday as the state's window closed on allowing child sex abuse claims that would have been barred under a statute of limitations.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

When Eddie Song leaves his Manhattan home, it can feel like heading into battle. The Korean American startup founder and avid rider dons his armored motorcycle jacket, motorcycle gloves, a skull face mask and a GoPro camera.

Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Alexander Williams/U.S. Navy via AP

Updated 4/24/20, 3:40 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The top Navy officer has recommended the reinstatement of the aircraft carrier captain fired for sending a fraught email to commanders pleading for faster action to protect his crew from a coronavirus outbreak, officials familiar with the investigation said Friday.

Dan Dennison / Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources

HILO — The Hawaii County Council has accepted a $5.3 million agreement with the state for reimbursement of law enforcement overtime costs during demonstrations against the Big Island giant telescope project.

Pixabay

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that sewage plants and other industries cannot avoid environmental requirements under landmark clean-water protections when they send dirty water on an indirect route to rivers, oceans and other navigable waterways.

AP Photo/Oded Balilty

An unplanned grand experiment is changing Earth.

pasja1000 / Pixabay

Bank of Hawaii Corp. has announced it set aside $33.6 million to cover potential loan losses tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

AP Photo/Martha Mendoza

Companies with thousands of employees, past penalties from government investigations and risks of financial failure even before the coronavirus walloped the economy were among those receiving millions of dollars from a relief fund that Congress created to help small businesses through the crisis, an Associated Press investigation found.

AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

Update 4/20/20, 7:35 p.m.

SEOUL, South Korea — The South Korean government said Tuesday no unusual activity has been detected in North Korea after unconfirmed reports described leader Kim Jong Un as in fragile condition after heart surgery.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Updated 4/20/20, 2:10 p.m.

SEATTLE — Boeing and at least one other U.S. heavy-equipment manufacturer resumed production and some states rolled out aggressive reopening plans Monday, despite nationwide concerns there is not enough testing yet to keep the coronavirus from rebounding.

AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy

Transient vacation rental units are proving difficult for Hawaii officials to regulate during the coronavirus pandemic as they serve as shelter for many of the state's visitors.

Tim Krochak/The Canadian Press via AP

Updated: 4/19/2020, 3:21 p.m.

TORONTO — A man disguised as a police officer went on a shooting rampage in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, killing 16 people Sunday, in the deadliest such attack in the country's history. Officials said the suspected shooter was also dead.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Updated: 4/19/2020, 4:03 p.m.

Where Hawaii stands

The state's confirmed and presumed positive coronavirus cases number 580 today, up 6 from the previous day, according to the state Department of Health's latest daily update. The death count increased by one to 10.

Wikimedia Commons

WAILUKU — Nearly all the sales and use of plastic disposable food ware in Maui will be banned under a bill that was given final approval by county officials.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

As a clearer picture emerges of COVID-19’s decidedly deadly toll on black Americans, leaders are demanding a reckoning of the systemic policies they say have made many African Americans far more vulnerable to the virus, including inequity in access to health care and economic opportunity.

AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File

Updated 4/15/20, 10 a.m.

NEW YORK — Federal health officials are coming under increasing pressure to start publicly tracking coronavirus infections and deaths in nursing homes amid criticism they have not been transparent enough in responding to an explosion of outbreaks that has already claimed thousands of lives.

Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP

In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicenter of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began traveling through for Lunar New Year celebrations.

Wikimedia Commons

A Hawaii program providing free hotel rooms to health workers responding to the coronavirus has been modified after the demand exceeded the number of available rooms.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Updated 4/14/20, 1:20 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Setting the stage for a possible power struggle with President Donald Trump, governors around the U.S. began sketching out plans Tuesday to reopen their economies in a slow and methodical process so as to prevent the coronavirus from rebounding with tragic consequences.

Casey Harlow / HPR

WAILUKU — Hawaii has experienced a significant reduction in the use of electricity because of the coronavirus, with Maui's use dropping the most among the three largest islands.

Hawaii Food Bank

Updated: 4/14/2020, 7:07 p.m.

Starting next Monday, Oʻahu residents will be required to cover their face when entering an essential business or using public transportation. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell amended the city's stay-at-home order today to include that mandate.

Ashley Mizuo/HPR

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Incident Commander Kenneth Hara said yesterday that Gov. David Ige’s administration is exploring further stemming the flow of visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic by disrupting their ability to make hotel reservations.

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Updated 4/13/20, 3:35 p.m.

WASHINGTON — New York's coronavirus death toll topped 10,000 even as the lack of fresh hot spots in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world yielded a ray of optimism and fueled discussions Monday about how some places might begin to reopen.

Sgt. John Schoebel/Army National Guard via AP

The state of Hawaii said Friday it wants travelers to use an online program to provide information about their travel plans to help authorities enforce a 14-day coronavirus quarantine imposed on people arriving in the islands.

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