- Wearing of masks is now a requirement at any public place in Nevada
- A surge in the number of coronavirus cases since ‘phase two’ reopening witnessed in Nevada
- Prior to the wearing of masks being made mandatory, few people wore masks
- Social distancing also encouraged to curb further spread
Friday, June 26, saw wearing face masks made a mandatory attire at the restaurants, casinos, and across other businesses in Nevada.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak hopes that wearing of masks in public will help size down the coronavirus cases surge in the state that is highly dependent on tourism.
Announcing the new rule, the governor noted that many people were not wearing masks from the photographs and videos that were surfacing. The new rule will take effect on any public space.
As it stands, at least one casino employee has died of COVID-19 in Las Vegas. The long-time serving (18 years) worker at Caesar’s Palace succumbed on Wednesday as first announced by KTNV on Friday.
Adolfo Fernandez’s daughter claimed that she had ‘proof’ that her father tested negative as he went back to work. According to her, after some days, he started experiencing the first symptoms. A lawsuit is now being filed by The Culinary Workers Union of Las Vegas and Reno against three major casino restaurants in Las Vegas over hazardous working conditions.
According to public health experts, the spread of the COVID-19 virus is not only as a result of casinos. The widespread business reopening, a somehow unconcerned public, together with the casinos have all played a part in the spread of the virus.
‘Phase two’ reopening partly to blame
After the state’s phase two reopening, coronavirus cases in the Sin City have been taking an upturn. The phase two reopening started before casinos opened back up. Phase two reopening on May 29 saw schools, museums, gyms, massage, and tattoo parlors among other hands-on, face-to-face establishments reopen. The casinos would then reopen from June 4.
COVID-19 virus has an incubation of a few days to two weeks after exposure before symptoms start to manifest prompting a test.
According to Brian Labus, a University of Nevada Las Vegas professor of public health and outbreak investigator, people were not following the health guidelines set out pointing out that the spread timing matched up perfectly with the phase two reopening. The indoor temperatures in Nevada are refreshing as compared to the outside temperatures and the professor notes that hanging out in indoor places contributed to the surge.
Few people wore masks before the mask rule made
Locals and revelers who wore masks before the governor made it a mandate on Friday were very few in Vegas. Brittany Bronson who is a former cocktail server (7 years working at various casinos in Vegas) and a writer spoke to Business Insider stating that a majority of the people ‘refused’ to wear masks. She also noted a ‘weird political divide’ when it came to wearing of masks in Vegas.
Brittany called for a type of rule or mandate that would see people wearing masks for the benefit of other people, more so, the workers.
Many defy wearing masks even after a $20 offer
Most patrons had defied wearing of masks despite efforts by the casinos to offer free masks with others offering $20 to patrons who put them on. Labus states that some paid little attention to such measures and notes that those who would travel, go for a vacation to Vegas amid a pandemic proved to be less concerned with the outbreak and were less likely to observe social distancing guidelines.
He notes that casinos were in an awkward position of confronting the patrons to wear masks. However, on the day that Fernandez died, Caesar’s Palace made it mandatory for everyone to wear masks. Labus sites the rule issued by the governor as a breakthrough.
Social distancing also crucial
While wearing of masks is one of the guidelines, observing social distancing will also be important to curb the further spread. Leguen states that the virus is still active despite the reopening and that people should protect themselves.
People are still allowed to be close to others while sitting and dining without face masks. This risks swapping of spit that may have virus particles. Leguen says that effect will be realized after a two-week duration.
For a state that heavily relies on tourism with nearly 40% of its budget coming from the sector, containing the widespread is crucial. Else, Las Vegas risks shutting down again crippling the economy further.
However, the mask rule has been exempted from the kids and persons with breathing issues.
Work to remain open
The casinos shutdown paralyzed the economy with high unemployment rates in history recorded. More than 25% of the workforce in Nevada is tied to gaming. Bronson notes that the economy is crucial and no one would want the casinos facing closure again.
The mask mandate is only a remedy to reduce transmission and not a solution. One disease model pointed out that wearing of masks over the next three months would see about 33,00 American lives saved.
For now, Bronson believes that she is more protected than before and can go out and gamble.