he Clark County Commission on Tuesday voted to require employees of businesses across that Nevada jurisdiction, including Las Vegas casinos, to wear masks while working in indoor public spaces.
The measure follows new policy rules announced Friday by a number of Las Vegas casinos, including Sands, to reimpose mask mandates for employees regardless of vaccination status, following new recommendations from the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD).
Elected officials in Las Vegas showed their concerns about public health and the economic effects of a spike COVID-19 cases, particularly the highly contagious delta variant. But they decided not to impose a full mask mandate for everyone on the Strip and gathering in crowded spaces and casinos. The mandate also includes workers at spaces like stores, malls and clubs, and requires them to post signs citing local health district advice that everyone — vaccinated or not — should wear face coverings.
The requirement will go into effect on Thursday, July 22. The board will take it up again on August 17 when commissioners are scheduled to reconvene and evaluate what steps to take next.
Beyond the mask mandate, the county commission voted to require large businesses where more than 250 people gather, including casinos, malls and grocery stores, to submit plans to the county’s business department by Monday detailing how they plan to protect employees and customers. The decision comes against a backdrop of rising concern among those in the gaming industry that conventions may cancel if they believe not enough is being done to address the spread of cases in the county and as officials in some other states, including those in Los Angeles County, have advised against travel to Nevada.
“We’ve got to do something,” Commissioner Jim Gibson said as he raised the specter of crowded hospitals and canceled trade shows. The tourism world, he said, was watching what the elected body with jurisdiction over the Las Vegas Strip would do, the Associated Press reports. “We have already been through a shutdown and a start-up,” Gibson said. “We cannot afford to have major conventions choose to go elsewhere.”
Plans for compliance will be submitted to #ClarkCounty by casinos, grocery stores and malls. This includes venues hosting 250 or more people. Signage will also be posted at businesses asking people to follow @SNHDinfo #COVID19 guidelines and asking them to get vaccinated. #Vegas pic.twitter.com/OwOm7xtl8i— Clark County Nevada (@ClarkCountyNV) July 21, 2021
A hastily called and sometimes contentious emergency meeting drew a big audience and about 50 speakers, almost all opposed to mask requirements, vaccinations and business closures and distancing.
Nevada Resort Association and Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce representatives said they favored a mask mandate and asked for written guidance about enforcement.
The seven-member commission acknowledged “coronavirus fatigue” 16 months after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak mandated masks in March 2020, closed casinos and nonessential businesses, and implemented distancing and other measures. On May 13, following CDC guidelines, the Gov. dropped the requirement for vaccinated people to wear face coverings in Nevada. Unvaccinated people were still advised to wear masks.
In the two months since then, the delta variant has gripped Nevada. It was identified in 76% of samples collected and sequenced from Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County, according to data posted Friday by the Nevada State Public Health Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday in Nevada continued to climb, to 1,004, but no new deaths. Nevada has counted 5,761 lives lost in the state to COVID-19 since March 2020. Nationally, nearly 607,000 people have died. Meanwhile, state vaccination rates have stalled in recent weeks.
The CDC now rates community virus transmission “high” in and around Las Vegas, along with the rural Nevada counties of Nye, Esmeralda, Mineral and Elko. Almost 80% of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Nevada have been in Clark County. In the Reno, Sparks and Carson City area, where test positivity was 7% on Tuesday, Washoe County health officials said they had no plans to implement mask requirements or recommendations in their region.