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MGM chief pleads with workers to get vaccine ‘as soon as possible’

Updated July 29, 2021 - 11:21 am

MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle is pleading with unvaccinated employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, warning that the worsening spread of the virus could lead to more restrictions beyond the newest mask mandate.

Hornbuckle sent a letter to MGM employees in Las Vegas on Wednesday afternoon, a day after the state announced that masks would be required for all people when indoors, including hotel guests and visitors, in Clark and other counties with high COVID-19 transmission rates starting Friday to align with revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is another disheartening step backward when we should be focused on continuing our recovery,” Hornbuckle wrote, referencing the re-implemented mask mandate. “In addition to the heart-wrenching thought of more illness and death, I fear that progressively more restrictive measures, including a return to social distancing and capacity restrictions, could be around the corner if we continue on this path. This would be a significant blow to our community, industry and economy.”

“So please, get the vaccine as soon as possible. It is safe, and it is effective. If you’re still unsure, ask your doctor — the person you trust most to provide informed, professional medical advice regarding the health of you and your family. But please, do it as soon as possible,” he added.

Hornbuckle said Southern Nevada’s low vaccination rate is putting the region on the path toward overrun hospitals, more COVID-19 related deaths, a downturn in tourism traffic and potentially more furloughs and layoffs like those experienced in the throes of the economic shutdown last year.

“None of us want that. After the pain endured by so many these past 16 months — and the tremendous progress made in 2021 — I can think of no more damaging scenario for us as a community,” Hornbuckle said.

Nevada is in the middle of a surge of COVID-19 infections, with hospitalizations related to the virus this week being five times higher than those seen in mid-June and other key metrics also on the rise.

Meanwhile, Nevada still trails the national average for vaccination rates among residents 12 and older, according to CDC data.

As of this week, MGM Resorts is requiring employees in Las Vegas to provide proof of vaccine or be subject to regular COVID-19 testing at their own cost, a policy that has the backing of the Culinary union, which represents some 24,000 MGM workers in the city.

Employees who test positive or have had close contact with someone who tested positive will be required to quarantine. The company noted that employees who are not fully vaccinated will not be paid for their time off during quarantine.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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