What should normally be a busy time for Las Vegas has turned into a troublesome spell for the city. The gambling city was hoping to end the year on a high note, but the cancelation of flights around the US is causing problems. If the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, things could get worse before they get better.
Las Vegas Losing Traction
Harry Reid International Airport hasn’t been able to properly inaugurate its new name. It was McCarran International Airport until December 14, and, since then, has had difficulty maintaining decent air traffic. Thousands of flights have been canceled around the US, and Vegas added 50 on Monday.
Spirit, Alaska and Allegiant Air, Spirit and United reported Monday cancelations for flights departing or arriving at Harry Reid. Some flights, though, were able to continue. The cancelations are the result of staffing shortages and bad weather affecting what would otherwise be typical feeders into Vegas.
Monday’s scratch came after hundreds of flights across the country were canceled over the holiday weekend. According to FlightAware, almost 1,000 cancellations were recorded in the US on Christmas Day. Hundreds more flights were canceled Sunday, with Harry Reid receiving 84 of those.
End of Year to Bring More Delays
This year, there have been frequent cancellations and flight delays due to staff shortages. Despite an increase in health protocols and better defenses to fight COVID-19, the disease continues to make its presence known. American, Delta, United and JetBlue have all acknowledged that COVID-19, including the new Omicron variant, is causing staffing issues. However, weather and other factors are also problems.
The Biden administration has been asked by airlines to reduce the time for isolation for those employees who test positive for COVID-19. This is to help with staff shortages. The union representing flight attendants resisted this, however, stating that the isolation period should be maintained at 10 days.
The US requires foreigners entering the country to be vaccinated. It also requires a negative COVID-19 test for US citizens and foreigners arriving in the country. Infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that the US should “seriously consider” a mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Another lull in Vegas traffic is likely as 2021 draws to a close. According to Hilarie Grey, a spokesperson for Allegiant Air, “We do anticipate additional delays and cancellations this week, unfortunately.”
COVID-19 Increasing in Nevada
The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) said it is ready to handle the increased demand for testing due to rising cases and holiday travel. The Omicron variant also has led to an increase in cases.
According to the district, 34,000 people sought COVID-19 tests at different public and private locations last week. More than 8,000 people sought testing through the SNHD.
As of Monday night, the rate of positive cases had risen to 19.9%, according to the SNHD. There are now approximately 1,000 new cases per day, the result of an increase in the Omicron variant in Nevada.