Nevada Casino Workers 4th in ‘Essential’ Lane for COVID-19 Vaccine

Posted on: January 19, 2021, 03:27h. 

Last updated on: January 19, 2021, 03:55h.

Nevada hospitality workers are fourth on the “frontline/essential” priority list to get the COVID-19 vaccine. It is unclear when their turn might come, according to a published report.

D Las Vegas
Dealers wearing masks at a craps table await players inside the D Las Vegas downtown on Fremont Street. Casino workers are on a priority list for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. (Image: Los Angeles Times)

The state vaccination guidelines released this week put groups such as law enforcement officials at the top of the frontline/essential workforce” priority lane.

The fourth category eligible for the vaccine in this lane includes hospitality workers.

Statewide, 301,700 people are employed in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The group makes up a quarter of the state’s workforce and includes casino employees. Encore at Wynn Las Vegas on the Strip has been named a vaccination site.

Brian Labus, a medical adviser to Gov. Steve Sisolak (D), told the newspaper it is unclear when hospitality workers will have access to a vaccine. He said priority groups could shift under updated federal guidance.

A parallel “general population” lane also is in place based on age, underlying health conditions, and more. This means some casino workers could get vaccinated in the general population” lane before their group pops up in the “frontline/essential workforce” lane. 

Frustrations Mount

In some states, frustration is mounting over the pace of vaccine distribution. Each state was tasked with developing its own rollout rules, Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday on CNBC. Gottlieb is a former US Food and Drug Administration chairman. 

These state-by-state systems created a situation where people in one state have been vaccinated, while their friends in other states haven’t had access to a vaccine, Gottlieb said. 

Two vaccines are in distribution so far, one by Pfizer and another by Moderna. Both require two shots for the vaccine to be more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Gottlieb said governors around the nation from both parties told him they werent sure how the federal government wanted their states to handle distribution. Gottlieb serves on the Pfizer board.

The states really felt frozen by the federal government, waiting for the federal government to give them some guidance,” he told CNBC anchor Becky Quick.

On the Face the Nation weekend television talk show, Gottlieb said he believes President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to distribute 100 million vaccines in 100 days could succeed. 

I think they will hit that 100 million mark,” he said.

Potentially at Risk 

In Nevada, the adult population is almost 2.4 million. Across the state, 211,750 vaccine doses have been distributed. The number of people who have received the first dose is 52,371. The second dose has gone out to 15,308 people, according to figures compiled on the Review-Journal website.

Labus told the newspaper that the updated Nevada guidelines follow what the federal government recommends. In addition to advising the Nevada governor, Labus is an assistant professor of epidemiology at UNLV 

There are local decisions we can make. But the basic groups are decided at the federal level and rolled out similarly state to state,” he said.

He said Nevada wants to protect hospitality workers “because theyre putting themselves in situations where theyre potentially at risk by being around tourists from all around the world.”

The governor has mandated casinos limit their gaming floors to 25 percent capacity.

Statewide, 263,972 Nevadans have been infected with the coronavirus, resulting in 3,793 deaths.