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10 Las Vegas hotels set to host tourists sick with coronavirus

Updated May 27, 2020 - 10:37 am

The state Gaming Control Board is preparing to accommodate tourists who show up in Las Vegas, show signs of being infected and are turned away by resorts.

Ten nongaming properties are set to be available to quarantine the newly afflicted victims.

The availability of nongaming hotels was disclosed Tuesday by Mason VanHouweling, CEO of University Medical Center in Las Vegas, in his presentation to the board in a teleconferenced 3½-hour workshop meeting with seven health care professionals.

The Control Board is set to issue a new industry notice Wednesday that reflects updated guidance on the June 4 reopening of more than 400 licensed casinos and more than 1,000 small operators.

Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Morgan said updated guidance incorporating details noted by the seven professionals would be forthcoming if Gov. Steve Sisolak affirmed reopening plans Tuesday, which he did.

Morgan noted that it was unusual for the high-level health experts to participate in a meeting for gaming regulation.

At its peak, the meeting drew 1,243 online guests, and there were more than 900 still viewing when the meeting ended about 12:30 p.m.

Most of the guidelines already had been released in notices issued by board members Terry Johnson and Philip Katsaros on May 1 and May 5. Another guideline for the reopening of restaurants within resorts was released May 14 by Morgan.

But several health care executives from Northern and Southern Nevada discussed additional details, including data justifying some of the policies offered.

Among the details reported Tuesday by those experts:

When guests are tested upon entering a resort, they’ll have 15 minutes to cool down before retesting.

Regulators said updated guidance wouldn’t include directives to have a screening area prepared for people who are held back from entering and who have access to either emergency transport, 24-hour telehealth services or a nongaming hotel that has agreed to hold quarantined guests. Regulators didn’t name the nongaming hotel properties.

The temperature threshold for tested guests is 100.4 degrees. Guests who have a temperature higher than that can be retested in 15 minutes. If they fail again, they’ll be asked to go to the secondary screening area.

Medical professionals will then monitor basic vital signs, consultation with a telehealth provider, a lab sample collection if recommended by the provider, and a transfer if medically needed.

The percentage of positive coronavirus tests has gone down steadily since April 23. VanHouweling said 133,508 tests have been conducted in Southern Nevada. On April 23, the rate of positive tests was 12.2 percent.

The percentage has gone down steadily through Sunday, when it was calculated at 6.9 percent.

Clark County’s surge plan says there are 2,116 hospital beds available. They include 871 among hospital partners, up to 900 in a temporary area at the Las Vegas Convention Center, 45 at the Southern Nevada Health District care site and 300 at the Cashman Care Center, established especially for the homeless.

VanHouweling said the south hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center is on standby and the 900 beds there could be available within three days.

Renown Health in Northern Nevada has an established testing algorithm. It separates symptomatic employees and asymptomatic workers, and they get polymerase chain reaction testing.

Those who test positive go into 14-day quarantine before returning to work; those testing negative can return to work immediately and are encouraged to be retested as needed.

Guests aren’t required to wear masks. But resorts will encourage them to do so and offer them at no cost.

Once inside, guests will see the multiple hand-sanitizing stations, guides recommending frequent hand-washing and social distancing techniques that have been previously announced, such as three per table at blackjack and other table games, four per table at poker tables and roulette, and six per table at craps tables.

The congregating of groups will be discouraged, as will “high-five” celebrations.

Smoking will be allowed. At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Morgan asked Chief Deputy Attorney General Darlene Caruso whether the Control Board could ban smoking. Caruso said her interpretation of the Nevada Clean Air Act made it clear that it is a legislative matter that could be addressed only by state lawmakers.

The topic wasn’t brought up with the health professionals, and there was no indication whether the board would recommend that Sisolak ban smoking by executive order.

Resort reopening plans are confidential. Caruso also gave the opinion that resort reopening plans, required to be submitted to the Control Board at least seven days in advance of reopening, are considered confidential documents.

Resorts have the ability to publicize their individual plans, and some have done that, but the board can’t compel casino companies to make them public, she said. The board also can’t disclose whether a company has or hasn’t submitted a plan.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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