A new release of official statistics released from the Department of Health and Human Services in Nevada is showing the number of visitors in July who have tested positive for COVID-19 has almost tripled.
Casinos in the state closed doors mid-March after Governor Steve Sisolak issued a statewide order to shut non-essential businesses, and remained closed until June 4. A month later, July 6, the reported number of infected by the coronavirus visitors is 123. Less than one month forward, July 25, that number jumped nearly three times, to 347, implying that reopening of casinos contributed to the rise in the number of infections.
Spike in the Number of New Infections
According to statistics from Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), more than 1 million people visited the state in June, with July numbers yet to be released, but if the rate of increase of the numbers of infected is to be preserved for July, it implies more than 3.5 million visitors, a number close to June 2019 visitations when there was no trace of COVID-19.
Infected people in the latest report had come from 32 states, with more than 150 from California, 89 from Arizona and 20 from Texas. Internationally, visitors from Mexico and Brazil tested positive for the virus, and nearly all who had been identified as infected tested positive while in Nevada.
On top of that, the number of Nevada residents who have contracted coronavirus since the casinos resumed operations has increased more than 6 times, topping 54,000 identified cases throughout the state as of Friday, August 7.
Recent health data suggests that the virus transmission continues despite the measures undertaken by state officials and confirms the “Red Zone” tag the state was given in a report for the White House Coronavirus Task Force by the Center for Public Integrity due to the number of COVID-19 cases.
July 7, Gov. Sisolak ordered bars which do not serve food to return to Phase 1 of the re-opening plan and close doors. The order affected establishments in 7 counties, Clark, Washoe, Elko, Lyon, Humboldt, Lander and Nye. August 4, the state governor lifted restrictions for 3 of the counties, Lyon, Humboldt and Lander. The other 4 were identified as with increased transmission risk. Gov. Sisolak even announced a new criteria-based strategy that would replace the phase reopening plan.
Some of the casinos seem to have taken the guidelines for safety issued by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) lightly, but the regulator is determined to make sure casino operators comply with the set of rules to protect their patrons and members of staff.
In August, the NGCB issued a fine to the Sahara Las Vegas Casino for 4 breaches related to the health and safety protocols, with the total number investigations of non-compliance being 156, despite the warning aired by Gov. Sisolak that should businesses put people’s health at risk, he would issue another state-wide shutdown.