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The local paper in Mesquite closed in March, an economic victim of the pandemic.

When social media turned into a rumor mill, Mesquite Mayor Al Litman began making informational videos at city hall.

"I was able to get the word out and let people know what was going on in Mesquite and what is going on in general, especially under the circumstances of COVID-19," he said.

In his nearly 50 presentations he’s announced everything from new COVID-19 cases to the reopening of the city’s golf courses.

The biggest impact from the outbreak has been the closure of the city's two casinos, Litman said. Mesquite has not had a large number of cases. 

Several businesses did not have to close because they were considered essential and those that did close have reopened.

"Overall, we've weathered the storm pretty well and health-wise, of course, we've done exceptionally well," he said. "I owe that to the people of Mesquite and their ability to social distance and take good care of themselves."

Litman said 14 people from the city were diagnosed with coronavirus. Two are under quarantine but everyone else recovered.

Like all local governments in Nevada, Mesquite is expecting a budget shortfall, but Litman said the city doesn't know at this point just how big it will be.

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"It's made a huge impact and we've looked right across the board pretty much at 20 percent cuts in supplies to everybody in the departments and a 10 percent wage cut across the board," he said, "That's being optimistic right now because later in the year - I don't know."

Litman is hopeful that federal funds will help offset some of the shortfall, but so far, the money has gone to larger cities, leaving Mesquite and Boulder City out.

In addition to that, Litman is concerned about small businesses making it through the summer months because tourism usually falls off and restaurants can only be at 50 percent capacity currently. The restaurants in the casinos are closed and he's not sure when they will reopen. 

While big cities have struggled to keep the virus under control, Litman said that has been an advantage of being a small city. Gatherings are smaller automatically because there are fewer people, to begin with.

Despite that, he did not agree with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman's call last month to open all the casinos all at once. He believes there still too many unknowns.

"This is a virus that we know so little about and I go by what has happened in the past," he said, "I have no idea what is going to happen in the future. This could come back and double whammy us in the fall. It might not. I think we're cautious in what we're doing."

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Al Litman, mayor, Mesquite

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