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Self-employed workers say Nevada is failing them

Debra Petersen-Ward tells KOLO 8 Evening Anchor Noah Bond (in mask because Petersen-Ward's asthma makes her high risk for COVID-19) she would like Nevada state leaders to get a system in place to allow her to request unemployment assistance through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (Section 2101) of the CARES Act more than a month after Gov. Sisolak closed non-essential businesses. 
Debra Petersen-Ward tells KOLO 8 Evening Anchor Noah Bond (in mask because Petersen-Ward's asthma makes her high risk for COVID-19) she would like Nevada state leaders to get a system in place to allow her to request unemployment assistance through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (Section 2101) of the CARES Act more than a month after Gov. Sisolak closed non-essential businesses. (KOLO)
Published: May. 4, 2020 at 6:22 PM PDT
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Many self-employed workers have contacted KOLO 8 News Now to say they are beyond frustrated and are pleading for help to get unemployment benefits called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). But so far, no Nevada state leader is giving them solid answers about the steps they can take to get this aid.

Nevada's Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation website states a system could be in place by mid-May. Click on the attached link to learn more about this.

The Federal Government promised unemployment benefits to these self-employed workers during the COVID-19 Pandemic through the PUA, but Nevada state leaders must first set up a system to distribute the funds.

Evening Anchor Noah Bond drove to Fernley to talk with a self-employed worker who lost her job due to COVID-19. Her name is Debra Petersen-Ward.

"Have you read all of Gov. Sisolak's letters about the pandemic and unemployment benefits?" Bond asked.

"Daily," responded Petersen-Ward.

"Has he mentioned anything about what people who are self-employed trying to get benefits can do?" Bond asked.

"There is nothing that I can find in any of those letters on COVID posts he sends out," Petersen-Ward responded.

Petersen-Ward is an independent marketing consultant and helped to launch Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse in Reno earlier this year.

"We just hit the ground running and we were doing so well and I just my heart broke," Petersen-Ward said when she learned of the negative fallout this would have on Churrasco Brazilian Steakhouse and its workers.

"You're not working specifically because of this pandemic? Is that correct?" asked Bond.

"Correct. The pandemic closed our restaurant," said Petersen-Ward.

"Debra, you just told me that you've reached out to Gov. Sisolak, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and Sen. Jacky Rosen. When you ask them for help what do they say?" asked Bond.

"No specific answers from anyone except, and it's quoted in their emails, 'Check the unemployment website,'" said Petersen-Ward.

"It has been over a month since Gov. Sisolak shut down the State to all non-essential businesses. What do you want to say to Gov. Sisolak, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and Sen. Jacky Rosen?" asked Bond.

"Please look into us 1099 workers. We are out of work because of the pandemic. Our client's business is closed. We have absolutely no benefits and it's completely unacceptable. If California can do it, Nevada can do it and we need to look at what California is doing or other states are doing with what vendors they're using and do it here for Nevada. It's unacceptable that my children can't call and get their insurance. They need to pay rent. It's just completely unacceptable," Petersen-Ward said.

At 10:30 a.m. on Monday May 4, 2020 Bond sent an email to Gov. Steve Sisolak, Sen. Jacky Rosen, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

It reads:

Governor Sisolak, Senator Rosen, and Senator Cortez Masto, DETR Spokeswoman Rosa Mendez informed me Nevada's Government has no way of providing unemployment benefits (which are actually called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (Section 2102) of the CARES Act provided by the Federal Government) to self-employed workers, independent contractors, freelancers, workers without a long enough work history, workers at religious institutions, and workers at nonprofits organized under religious institutions? Gov. Sisolak shut down all non-essential businesses forcing many of these people out of work more than a month ago. The government mandate is causing financial problems for these individuals. I want to know what specific actions you are taking to fix these problems. You can call me at (Noah's cell phone number). Regards, KOLO 8 News Now Evening Anchor Noah Bond

Bond received a call and text from Gov. Sisolak's new spokeswoman Meghin Delaney at 12:05 p.m. She said she would send a statement, but it was not sent before this online article was posted Monday at about 6:30 p.m.

Sen. Rosen and Cortez Masto did not respond.

DETR Spokeswoman Rosa Mendez sent the following statement:

Hi Noah, I hope you are well. I wanted to clarify some information from the last time we spoke, to make sure we are sharing as much helpful information for Nevadans as possible. Self-employed workers, independent contractors, freelancers, etc., may be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the CARES Act. DETR is actively working on deploying this system and aim to have it stood up by mid-May. Similar to unemployment insurance, this will backdate to the date of eligibility. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Thank you, Rosa Mendez Public Information Officer Director’s Office State of Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation

The Governor's spokesperson, Delaney set up an interview between Bond and DETR's new director Heather Korbulic for Tuesday afternoon.

Feel free to send him questions you would like him to ask at

.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020

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