Nevada Casinos, Hotels See About Half of Workers Get COVID-19 Shot So Far

Posted on: May 1, 2021, 12:31h. 

Last updated on: May 1, 2021, 05:36h.

Nevada casino-hotels are making progress in getting workforces vaccinated against COVID-19.  But more effort is needed, with just under 50 percent of sector employees getting the shot, according to one estimate cited Thursday by the Nevada Current news organization.

More than 100,000 Nevada residents who got their shots, self-reported they work at casinos, hotels, or restaurants
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak shown at a COVID vaccine clinic at MGM’s Mandalay Bay Convention Center. He was among several officials on hand to encourage more hotel and casino workers to get the shot. (Image: James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Some of the largest gaming companies report they have between 60% and 70% vaccination rates among their employees, J. Brin Gibson, chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), was quoted by KLAS, a local TV station.

In addition, more than 100,000 Nevada residents who got their shots self-reported they work at casinos, hotels, or restaurants, Gibson further revealed, KLAS said. The actual number could be higher.

Gibson was among the state officials who showed up at MGM’s Mandalay Bay Convention Center on Thursday to promote increased vaccination against COVID-19. The convention space is being used as a vaccine center. Some 5,000 hospitality workers and others have gotten shots there. But more residents still need to get shots, officials warned.

Based on requirements set up by the NGCB and Clark County — which includes Downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip — casinos will be permitted to be at 100 percent occupancy when 60 percent of county residents get at least a first dose of the COVID vaccine.

As of late this week, about 47 percent of Clark County residents got at least a first dose of the COVID shot. That translates to about 856,131 residents getting that initial shot, the Las Vegas Review-Journal said. So, 241,824 more people need vaccines in the county to meet the threshold.

“We are doing everything we can to remove barriers to vaccination and address hesitancy through education and peer-to-peer outreach,” Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said at the convention center.

We are focused on reaching 60 percent so we can open to 100 percent,” Valentine was quoted by the Nevada Current.  “For our visitors, there is no greater sign of our commitment to safety than a vaccinated workforce.”

As of this week, about 39 percent of state residents in total got at least one COVID-19 vaccine. One quarter are completely vaccinated, the Nevada Current said.

Also at Mandalay Bay Convention Center was Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, D. He said he would rather see the convention center “filled with conventioneers and customers than vaccines.

“We are on our way back,” the governor announced. “We are on our way back stronger and safer and healthier than ever.

“I’m committed to making Nevada the safest place to vacation and have a convention, and that is only going to be done by what you are seeing behind me. That is: needles in people’s arms.”

Guest Room Attendant Says COVID-19 Is Scary

One worker, Delia Garcia, who got a shot at the convention center, told KLAS when she got the vaccine, “It made me feel more secure in my job.”

She works as a guest room attendant at Delano Las Vegas. Garcia admitted, it was “so scary, to open one door in the rooms, and you don’t know what is going to happen inside the room.”

Also, Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline praised Sisolak on his “efforts to increase access to the vaccine, especially within Black and brown communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the effects of COVID-19.

The Culinary Union continues to encourage workers to take advantage of on-site vaccine clinics at work whenever they are available,” she added.

Also, Valentine noted how Nevada resorts are giving “flexibility for employees to get their shot and are using creative ways to promote and reward vaccinations.”

Wynn Resorts says workers who do not get vaccines must offer proof each week they got a negative result on a COVID-19 test.

NGCB’s Gibson Warns Against Coercion

But one Wynn employee, identified only as Nikki, complained to KTNV, another local TV station, she felt “coerced.”

In response, Gibson told the Nevada Current “I don’t know about that program. I’d have to look at it.

“I don’t want coercion. It’s important people make a choice.”

On Saturday, Clark County businesses and casinos go from the 50 to 80 percent occupancy limit on gaming floors.