Southern Nevada disease investigation analyses for June, July and August outlined casino-type properties as top locations of possible exposure to COVID-19, with one particular name topping the lists quite often, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The Cosmopolitan which ranked first in 5 different analyses one of which conducted in July and the rest in August was not the only Strip casino placed near the top of the list. The Venetian, Bellagio, MGM Grand and Caesars Palace were also among the top ranked exposure locations to the virus, drawing conclusions that casinos consistently ranked higher than other types of businesses.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The information was released after a request by Review-Journal following reports that employees of The Cosmopolitan felt unsafe due to the increasing number of casino floor workers testing positive for the virus, and prompted an official response from the venue.
“Since reopening in June, we have implemented and enforced an extensive set of health and safety policies and procedures, all of which meet or exceed the directives from local health and government authorities. As we, along with our industry and country, further navigate through this unparalleled time, we continue to adapt our practices to ensure we are in alignment with the latest knowledge and guidance from medical and safety professionals.”Official statement, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The official data point to Strip casino-hotels constituting the largest share in Nevada’s biggest metropolitan area of locations of possible exposure, as, out of 5,300 respondents in the first analysis, of which 1,600 infected said they visited a hotel/motel and out of them 1,300 visited a Strip hotel-casino. The only other location to enter the top rankings was the Clark County Detention Center.
The second rank group of businesses was classified as other, referring to businesses that do not align with the other categories. Third place was for food establishments, a broad category including restaurants and grocery stores. Of course, data released was based on voluntary self-reporting by people testing positive.
Strip Properties Actively Spreading the Virus to Other States
State health officials noted that the list of locations does not necessarily mean these are the places people contracted the virus, but the announcement shed light on the role Nevada casino and hospitality businesses play in the state’s outbreak. In August, a nonprofit newsroom, ProPublica, analysed data from cellphone locations and visualized it on a map to show how the virus spread from Nevada casinos to other states.
Another issue for properly interpreting the data is the inconsistency of approach among casino operators regarding testing their employees. Wynn Resorts, for example, regularly test a number of employees, while others among which MGM Resorts International test all employees who are new or returning to work, but do not mandate tests for the majority of employees. The Cosmopolitan said they immediately send for testing anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms, and those potentially exposed are required to self-quarantine until a negative result is confirmed.
The data released raises questions regarding the state’s strategy for reopening, especially in the light of this week’s announcement by Governor Steve Sisolak that bars and taverns statewide are allowed to reopen.