- From Thursday, you will see more “eyes in the sky” on your visit to Las Vegas casinos.
- Casinos have recently been installing thermal cameras to keep visitors with fevers from entering their properties.
- It is debatable how effective these expensive devices are at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
- Asymptomatic people could get into casinos, but thermal cameras can help reassure guests of their protection.
Expect to see extra “eyes in the sky” on your next visit to Las Vegas.
The past few months have seen casino operators enhance their health and safety measures. Some of them have installed thermal cameras at their premises entrances as part of their effort to prevent visitors with fevers from entering in.
However, it is debatable how effective these devices are in preventing the second wave of COVID-19.
UNLV epidemiology and biostatistics assistant professor, Brian Labus, said these devices were not medical and are not designed to diagnose fever.
Labus, who is also part of the medical team that advises Gov. Steve Sisolak, added that since these technologies are unproven but expensive, they are a challenge. He said this technology might not help buyers.
Effectiveness of Thermal Cameras
While the Nevada Gaming Control Board doesn’t require casinos to install thermal cameras, it does want them to screen the temperature of their visitors before entering the premises. Some companies intend to use these devices to rationalize the initial temperature screen.
Visitors with temperature below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit will be permitted to enter, while those with higher values will be sent to a holding area to be tested 15 minutes later. The visitor who shows fever after that will be taken to a separate holding area to get medical help or be sent to a non-gaming hotel for quarantine.
Although these measures could help casinos prevent the spread of COVID-19, Labus said that holes exist in such a system. He said it’s not possible to “get rid of all infectious people” since some are asymptomatic.
A recent peer-reviewed study revealed that at least 80% of coronavirus-infected crew and passengers aboard a cruise ship were asymptomatic.
Labus pointed out that screening measures work best when complemented with other health and safety protocols. All casino operators are set to implement the latter.
An American University Kogod School of Business professor, Ron Hill, said even though some visitors have no safety concerns, such measures will lure other guests because they will feel a sense of security.
Hill said one of the questions Vegas will have to ask is how to get people to come to the city. He said visible safety efforts show the concern of operators and make people feel there’s “an attempt to protect them.”
Sandra Morgan, the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s Chairwoman, last month said she wasn’t inclined to give a directive on the use of the devices, partly because she doubted their effectiveness in the desert heat.
FLIR vice president of marketing Ezra Merrill responded by saying his company’s devices employ high-resolution stable thermal cameras to establish a baseline temperature for each person they screen.