We investigated information that speaks to the safety of Las Vegas as a travel destination in the wake of COVID-19. The chart in Figure: 4 shows the transmission rates grew to 17%, with the new Delta variant outburst that started in July 2021 but has fallen to 11% and follows a downhill trend.
Why? Because of…
The strict safety measures imposed by the Casinos to have vaccination sites dedicated purely to their staff members and also to have weekly testings for those employees who have not been fully inoculated.
We estimate that ~70% of the employees in Las Vegas are immunized to achieve the minimal requirement for herd immunity; moreover, Nevada is predicted to reach a 60% total population vaccination rate by the end of this week, with only youth under the age of 18 reluctant to inoculate while all other age groups are conforming.
In comparison to the USA with relaxing most restrictions, Vegas has been more responsible in managing restrictions in favor of the economy and safety of the visitors.
Figure 1: Clark County Vaccinated Population.
According to the Clark County Transition Plan, capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements in Clark County will be removed when they reach the minimum recommendation for herd immunity with 60% of the eligible population in Clark County having received the Covid-19 vaccination. Currently, in Clark County, Nevada, 1,270,065 people (56.0%) have received at least one dose and 1,038,755 (45.8%) have been fully vaccinated. Therefore we project that on or before the end of this month, these mentioned restrictions would be lifted.
We also found a decline in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines in Nevada that began around the 15th of April, 2021. Our research revealed that there was a pause in the distribution of Johnson & Johnson vaccines due to concerns regarding a rare risk of blood clot. Greg Cassell, South Nevada’s regional COVID-19 response coordinator said that although the decline cannot be tied to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine issue, it would have concerned the people who were to be vaccinated. Nevertheless, over the last week, Clark County, Nevada reported a daily average of 24.1 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants. It is a substantial drop in cases, over a short period, relative to the 40.3 peak cases caused by the Delta Variant around August 3rd.
Figure 2: Percentage share of Case Counts and Deaths per age group
Figure: 2, with data obtained from the Health Equity Tracker, majority of those who tested positive for the virus are between ages 10-59. It also confirms, what is globally known, that the older population is at a higher risk of facing deaths due to COVID-19 than the younger people. Although it is of grave concern, our focus was not on that but more on the employee age group and their immunity that would avoid any increase in transmission rates.
Figure 3: Percentage of Total Vaccinations given out per Age Group
To that end, we found that Clark County's employed population, as per the Employment Status, 86.3% belong to the 20-59 age bracket. Of this age group, we estimate 69.27% of the population have already been inoculated. Therefore, considering the safety of visitors and in the efforts of mitigating transmission risk, Clark County employees have achieved the 70% upper bound of the minimal herd immunity requirement.
Even the Leisure and Hospitality Industries have been taking drastic measures to get their staff fully vaccinated. For this month of September, Clark County employees may be required to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing, if not vaccinated. And several large hotels and casinos including Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, MGM Resorts, Station Casinos, and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas have already opened dedicated vaccination sites for staff members, aiming to achieve a 100% employee vaccination rate and some properties will continue to provide covid tests to their tourists as well.
According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), Las Vegas visitor volumes have been picking up this year and have surpassed 3million in the month of July (almost in par with the pre-pandemic monthly rates of 3- 4 million). Though the Delta Varint caused concern to many travellers, Hotel and Casinos have not faced great drops in visitors, however, slightly lower than July rates (3.3 million).
Hotels, Casinos and Restaurants are currently following Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and strict hygiene and sanitary measures to ensure minimus risk and most restaurants will continue to offer contactless services to their customers. According to the AARP, MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas Strip properties initiated the first poolside mobile ordering system in the area where customers could order cocktails and food at the venue or even have it delivered to their lounge or room.
On August 16th, Governor Sisolak signed a new directive that allows fully vaccinated attendees at large gatherings the option to remove their masks, but only if the venue requires proof of vaccination. Those who have received only one dose, are not considered “fully vaccinated”, but would still be allowed to attend along with children under 12, given that they all wear masks throughout the event/stay.
At a CCVI (COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index) score of 6.99, Clark county Nevada is considered to have a “High” vulnerability than 70% of the 3,006 U.S. counties.
Usually communities with higher vulnerability have pre-existing economic, social, and physical conditions that may make it hard to respond to and recover from a COVID outbreak.
A county is flagged for elevated disease transmission if it meets the higher levels of two or three of the below criteria
The transmission rates of Nevada grew to 17%, with the new Delta variant outburst that started in July but has fallen to 12.7%, whilst Clark County is currently at a 11.5%. Clark County follows a similar trend in values because 73% of the population in Nevada are concentrated in Clark County.
Clark County’s case rate (1,008 per 100,000 over the past 30 days), test positivity rate of 11.5% and 345 tests per day per 100k population are flagged in the data reported as of 31st August.
If Clark County rates fall below the 5% World Health Organization (WHO) recommended safety threshold, it would be declared a low transmission zone.
(Our Projections for when Nevada may be considered a low transmission zone: Coming Up Soon)
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