Story at a glance
- More than 120 people visiting Nevada contracted COVID-19 in the months following casino reopenings.
- The tourism and entertainment industry is a key revenue stream in Nevada.
At least 123 visitors to Nevada have tested positive for the coronavirus in the weeks following their trip and returning home, USA Today reports. This comes after casinos in the state reopened on June 4, with state Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) aiming to rejuvenate the economy by welcoming tourists back to Las Vegas.
In light of the rising case count, with almost 1,000 new cases added on Monday bringing the state total to 43,831 total infection, Sisolak reimposed bar closures last week in county hotspots and added capacity restrictions for other restaurants and public spaces. Regarding casinos, however, the governor reportedly said he would wait for information before closing them or restricting admittance.
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Tourists, particularly ones visiting casinos, are a pillar in the Nevada economy. Tourism and entertainment are the primary drivers of job openings in the state, with casino hotels specifically making up the most jobs in the state’s lucrative entertainment sector, supplying 172,927 jobs in 2019.
USA Today also reports that within the first week of casinos reopening in June, 16 visitors had been diagnosed with the virus. In terms of demographics, Californians have composed approximately 46 percent of out-of-state visitors who tested positive for the coronavirus since early June. California has also struggled to control the rampant spread of COVID-19 infections, especially in the southern part of the state.
Reports of poor public health practices at reopened casinos have also been noted; in early July, a Nevada man was arrested for trespassing on casino grounds unauthorized and refusing to wear a mask.
Unsafe working conditions have also prompted the restaurant workers’ unions to sue Las Vegas casino operators from failing to protect employees from coronavirus exposure. A June lawsuit, for instance, accuses several resorts and properties of running for nearly three weeks before mandating face masks particularly for guests — a move the lawsuit says still put employees at risk for infection even if they themselves wore a mask. Some of the defendants were iconic casinos like MGM Grands resort and the Bellagio casino.
Sisolak made face masks a requirement for venturing out into public spaces on June 24. This applies to residents and visitors.
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