First, Las Vegas casino workers were ordered to put on masks again to help combat the COVID-19 spike. Now, could those workers who have yet to get a vaccination soon be ordered to get one?
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak did not go that far on Thursday. Rather, in announcing new steps aimed to stop the spread of the delta variant, the governor said he’s asking his top medical officials to determine what else can be done to make large gatherings safer, and he’d like the private sector to take some initiative from there.
The governor wants that to take place because he said he’s grown tired of making those calls.
I want the cooperation coming back,” he said. “And (businesses and large venues) taking the first step and saying ‘governor, we’re with you.’ Because I believe they are with us. We’re all together on this.”
Sisolak’s last directive went into effect last Friday, when he ordered masks to be worn by all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, in public indoor settings in counties where the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considered the COVID-19 transmission rate to be either substantial or high. That order covered Carson City, Nevada’s capital, and 11 counties, including Clark County.
Two weeks ago, the Clark County Commission voted unanimously to require workers to wear masks in congregated areas at their place of work. That order included resort and casino workers and was welcomed by the Nevada Resort Association, a leading trade association for the gaming industry in the state.
COVID-19 Cases Still Increasing in Nevada
Despite the steps taken over the last couple of weeks, data from the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center finds that the number of new daily cases that began to rise shortly after the Memorial Day holiday weekend is still trending up.
Over the past week, data from Johns Hopkins indicates the state has reported 7,394 cases in the past week. Meanwhile, the seven-day daily average of 993 new cases is a figure the state last reported in late January. That’s more than double the daily average of 473 cases from a month ago and more than quadruple the average of 235 daily cases from early June.
However, while case numbers have trended upward for more than two months, vaccines rates haven’t kept pace. The resource center’s data shows a slight bump near the end of June, only for the numbers to recede again. Over the last month, the trend line has shown only a slight increase in average vaccinations.
Just before the July 4 holiday, Nevada ranked 34th in the nation with 39.6 percent of its residents fully vaccinated. As of Thursday, Nevada had risen two spots in the rankings over the past month as now 46.5 percent are fully vaccinated.
Still, Sisolak said he sees any increase in vaccinations as good news. He noted on Thursday that from July 25 to Aug. 1, 3.5 percent of eligible unvaccinated residents got their first shot. Compared to the week prior, it was an increase of more than 20 percent.
In Clark County, home to nearly 75 percent of Nevada’s 3.1 million residents, 47.2 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated, up nearly two percentage points from two weeks ago, according to state data.
Sisolak Hopes Casinos Do “What Needs to be Done”
The first question Sisolak fielded dealt with whether workers at state-licensed casinos should be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Initially, he deferred, saying his administration has worked well with the Nevada Gaming Control Board and that Chairman J. Brin Gibson has performed remarkably. Then, he added that it’s a “property-by-property decision” with companies taking different actions.
After saying he encouraged all Nevada businesses to promote the vaccines and offer incentives to workers in order to boost vaccination rates, Sisolak was asked if casinos were doing enough.
Right now, I’m hopeful that the casinos will do on their own what needs to be done,” the governor answered. “Are they doing enough? We’re all doing as much as we can, and we’re stepping up our efforts. We’re doubling our efforts. We’re tripling our efforts. Some properties have done more than others, and I’m hopeful that they will all begin to understand and continue to do everything they can to get their employees and their customers protected and vaccinated.”
Some casinos in Las Vegas were able to shed COVID-19 restrictions and operate at 100 percent capacity three months ago after demonstrating that 80 percent or more of their employees were vaccinated. That included Wynn Resorts properties and The Cosmopolitan.
Michael Weaver, chief communications officer for Wynn Resorts, told Casino.org Thursday night the Wynn and Encore resorts achieved an 87 percent vaccination rate and added the company’s mark is likely the highest of any hospitality company anywhere. That was accomplished through measures like establishing a vaccination clinic on company property with the help of University Medical Center.
“We were the first resort in Las Vegas to require unvaccinated employees to be tested and have continued with a surveillance testing program of unvaccinated employees, as well as encouraging all employees to get vaccinated,” Weaver said in an email.
Casino.org reached out to other gaming operators in Vegas late Thursday afternoon for their reaction to Sisolak’s comments. This article may be updated if responses are received.
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