Las Vegas workers ordered to wear masks indoors as COVID-19 cases surge again
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All Las Vegas employees who work indoors are now required to mask up again, as local officials try to contain the concerning upswing in COVID-19 cases related to the Delta variant. But the mandate stops short of requiring tourists to wear masks, for the time being.
Clark County commissioners adopted the mandate during an emergency meeting Tuesday as the desert city faced the prospect of another major disruption to its all-important tourism industry. As of midnight Wednesday, all workers indoors in a public space, such as a casino, must wear masks. The new mask requirement will remain in place until at least August 17.
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This comes just two months after Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak followed CDC guidance and said fully vaccinated people no longer had to wear masks indoors. It also comes just a few weeks after Sin City started to show signs of neon-soaked life as its casinos, shows and nightlife came roaring back to life after a devastating 15 months, including the opening of the Resorts World, the mega-complex that is the Strip’s first new casino in 10 years.
But the comeback may get interrupted. There has been a rapid rise in cases nationwide in recent weeks as the highly contagious delta strain of the virus has run amok. Nevada saw 5,024 reported new cases in the past week, an alarming 51.8 percent jump. More than three-fourths of those cases are linked to the delta variant. Nevada ranks fifth among all U.S. states in terms of where coronavirus is spreading fastest on a per-person basis, according to USA Today.
This may be because visitors are not required to wear masks in Las Vegas and thousands have flooded indoors, many mask-free as TPG’s Summer Hull recently discovered.
Elected officials in Vegas are worried that the coronavirus could shut down the city again, and send travelers and conventions to find another city.
“We’ve got to do something,” Commissioner Jim Gibson said.
However, commissioners decided not to impose a full mask mandate for everyone inside casinos, clubs and restaurants. Instead, they decided just to require indoor workers to wear masks and post signs across the city advising that everyone — whether they are fully vaccinated or not — should wear masks.
Southern Nevada Health District Chief Medical Officer Cortland Lohff told the board that mandating everyone to wear masks rather than just workers would be more effective in battling the spread. The reason, he said, is because unvaccinated people will continue walking around without masks.
The Nevada Resort Association and Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce are in favor of a mask mandate. The Southern Nevada Health District last week recommended mask-wearing for vaccinated and unvaccinated people at crowded indoor public places. The district revised its mask policy as case rates and hospitalizations for COVID-19 continued to increase.
The seven-member commission will revisit the mask mandate at next month’s meeting. If cases continue to spike, officials may have no choice but to expand the mask requirements to everyone on the Strip.
Featured image by: Denise Truscello/Getty Images
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