COVID-19 Vaccine Comes To Vegas Casino Workers

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to select groups around the United States, employees at casinos on the Las Vegas Strip — as well as throughout the entire state of Nevada — will be eligible. According to a recent decree from state Governor Steve Sisolak, casino and resort workers are classified as essential, frontline workers, meaning that they face higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and thus deserve earlier access to the vaccine.

A patient receives a vaccine.

The vaccine rollout in Nevada is being expedited to include more eligible residents. ©whitesession/Pixabay

A Significant Decision From Nevada Officials

In early January, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced that — with the approval of the joint forces of his office and Nevada state health officials — essential workers in the state would soon be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which has begun its rollout in the United States.

What Constitutes An Essential Worker?

Around the United States, the phrase essential worker, or frontline worker, has been used to refer to those whose jobs require them to face extended exposure to others, which can put them at risk for contracting the novel coronavirus. Essential workers run the gamut of professions, from medicine and education to hospitality.

Announcement Comes As Correction To Previous Vaccine Rollout Plan

Prior to January 11, 2021, Nevada’s government had put a vaccine rollout plan into place which segmented the state population into what it called “tiers.” The tiers separated the essential workforce from the general population, including residents over the age of 75 and/or with underlying health conditions.

According to coverage of the state’s new vaccine plan, the previous structure would have culminated in delayed access to vaccination for state residents who are not frontline workers — a policy which many deemed too risky and unpopular to attempt, particularly as COVID-19 continues to surge, dizzyingly, across the United States.

The New Plan Considers Hospitality Workers Essential

As of January 11, Governor Steve Sisolak announced that the tier system would be dismantled in favor of what is being called a lane approach. This way, the general population will have access to the vaccine — with the elderly and immunocompromised at the front — concurrently with the essential workforce, which spans ages.

In First Draft Of Vaccine Rollout, Hospitality Workers Excluded

In an earlier statement about the vaccine rollout plan in Nevada, state officials did not include two groups of employees which have since been added to the vaccine rollout plan: hospitality and food service workers. And, in an exciting twist, Vegas employees will be able to get vaccinated at a beloved local spot.

Wynn’s Encore Las Vegas Will Offer Vaccines

The Encore, a part of Wynn Las Vegas, will be turning into a vaccination center for eligible Las Vegas residents beginning on January 18, 2021. The vaccination center will be located in the Encore’s self-parking garage, and is to be called the UMC COVID-19 Vaccination Center. It will be open weekdays.

Hospitality Workers Have To Wait A Little Bit Longer

However, hospitality workers in Las Vegas will not be included in the first rounds of residents eligible to be vaccinated at the Encore location. As of January 18, only residents over 70, first responders, and health care workers will be allowed to receive the new vaccine.

Throughout Pandemic, Wynn Is Playing A Participatory Role

Transforming a part of its Las Vegas location into a vaccination center is just the latest move for Wynn, which elected to host a COVID-19 testing center inside its Strip resort-casino in October 2020. According to CEO Matt Maddox, the decision was made as part of an overall strategy to encourage guests to feel safe entering the hotel and casino.

At the time, Maddox’s stance was clear: by regularly testing guests and employees alike, Wynn might be able to work its way toward reintroducing some of the most beloved — and lucrative — parts of the Las Vegas hospitality experience, including options like indoor dining and live entertainment.

Implications For Las Vegas

As the state government rolled out the update to its vaccination blueprint, Nevada Health and Human Services spokeswoman Candice McDaniel emphasized that a reason for adding the hospitality industry to the list of essential workers is because of the essential role hospitality plays in the Nevada economy, which implicitly is a reference to Las Vegas.

Vegas Has Been Pummeled By Pandemic

As the pandemic has worn on, Las Vegas has withered. Tourism has continued to dwindle in Sin City, provoking a number of hotels on the famous Las Vegas Strip to shut down business for most of the weekdays or to postpone opening entirely, as in the case of the anticipated brand-new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

According to a brand-new report from Forbes, unemployment continues to surge in the leisure and hospitality sectors, with joblessness in Las Vegas up 21.4% from where it was in January of 2020, before the global pandemic, which began in March. In total, that percentage reflects a loss of 62,000 jobs in Nevada.

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The Wynn Las Vegas and Wynn’s Encore location on the Las Vegas Strip at night.

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