Las Vegas Strip Accused of Being Potential COVID-19 Breeding Ground

Posted on: August 20, 2020, 03:18h. 

Last updated on: August 21, 2020, 08:29h.

The Las Vegas Strip began reopening in early June following a mandatory 78-day shutdown on Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s (D) orders. Now an analysis of cell phone movement shows Sin City could be hampering the country’s fight against slowing the spread of the novel 2019 coronavirus.

Las Vegas coronavirus COVID-19
A heat map of cell phones that had recently visited Las Vegas is seen here less than five days after they were all pinging in Southern Nevada. (Image: ProPublica)

ProPublica commissioned tech analytical companies X-Mode and Tectonix to analyze cell phone movements of recent visitors to Southern Nevada. The nonprofit news organization based in New York City produces investigative journalism in the public’s interest.

The review found just how connected Las Vegas is with the rest of the country. And it has prompted questions regarding whether Sin City should be open for business.

Analyzing data from a four-day weekend period in July, the tech firms found that some 26,000 cellular devices visited the Las Vegas Strip. In just four days after the weekend, those same cell phones were found pinging in every single US state, with the lone exception of Maine.

Close Vegas Down?

Americans returning to highly mobilized lives is a key reason why COVID-19 continues to spread, according to health and contact tracing experts talking with ProPublica say

“People have been highly mobile, and as a result, it makes sense why we see the continuation of the surge,” said Oscar Alleyne, an epidemiologist, and chief program officer at the National Association of County and City Health Officials in Washington DC.

There are even calls for Sisolak to re-close Las Vegas.

[Reopening Las Vegas is] gambling with lives,” opined Michelle Follette Turk, an occupational health historian at UNLV. “The employers are gambling with employee life because they want to make a profit. But employees are gambling with their lives. They need a paycheck.”

Crystal Watson, a senior scholar at The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, says she, too, has concerns with Las Vegas being open. She called the Strip and the surrounding area “a serious opportunity for spreading the virus.”

Mixed Feelings

Las Vegas casinos are desperate for guests. But that is dependent on visitors feeling safe. The severity of the coronavirus and its political handling has become a divisive topic.

“Sisolak is totally to blame for destroying our state’s economy. Other states have opened with success. The basics — hand-washing, hand sanitizer — is what is needed. Masks do not work unless they are medical grade,” opined a Las Vegas resident to

I LOVE Las Vegas as much as the next person, but I will wait until this storm settles. It’s not worth the risk of my health,” a potential traveler commented on our site.

One casino worker is fed up with guests not wearing masks, and said as much on

“The comments about not wearing masks disgust me. I work on the Strip and we are over capacity every single night with these idiots that treat us like garbage. Have some f***ing respect for Vegas workers when you come here.”