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The Nevada Independent

Clark County Commission to discuss possible COVID-19 mitigation measures, including employee mask mandate, at emergency meeting

Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
Megan Messerly
Megan Messerly
CoronavirusLocal Government
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Clark County commissioners will meet in an emergency session on Tuesday afternoon to discuss putting in place new pandemic mitigation measures as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the region.

The emergency meeting, which was announced on Monday, comes just four days after the Southern Nevada Health District recommended both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks in crowded indoor public places, including grocery stores, malls, large events and casinos. Southern Nevada District Health Officer Fermin Leguen told reporters on Friday that any further action, including a mask mandate, would be up to local authorities, including city and county governments.

Sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed that county commissioners are expected to consider a mask mandate, though just for employees of businesses within the county, during their Tuesday meeting.

State and local health officials have been urging residents to get vaccinated to stem the rising tide of COVID-19 cases, though the county’s decision to call the emergency meeting signals that vaccination alone may no longer be enough to halt the advance of the Delta variant.

Nevada Resort Association President Virginia Valentine said Monday she expected the gaming industry would support an employee mask mandate. She noted several casino operators had already implemented various mitigation measures, both in response to the health district’s recommendation, but also as positive cases began to appear.

“We’re going to comply with it,” said Valentine, who leads the association made up of large casino resorts. “We think it’s an important step.”

The Gaming Control Board would be responsible for enforcing the county’s mask mandate at casinos and other gaming establishments. Several gaming company spokespeople said Monday their resorts would comply with any mask mandate for workers if directed by state gaming regulators.

Las Vegas Sands spokesman Keith Salwoski said in an email Monday that all employees of the Venetian, Palazzo, and Sands Expo — vaccinated or not — are required to “wear company-issued face masks while working in indoor public spaces, and in indoor areas where people congregate.” 

He said the properties have revised signage at public entrances to share the new health district recommendation and will provide complimentary face masks to guests.

Valentine noted that other casino properties had taken different steps. The Westgate Las Vegas now requires all employees to wear masks, while Resorts World Las Vegas has begun separating vaccinated employees from non-vaccinated employees in team member dining rooms.

Employees of the county government, meanwhile, will be required to wear masks in common and public areas effective Tuesday, according to an email from County Manager Yolanda King obtained by The Nevada Independent.

The emergency meeting comes as the Delta variant continues to rapidly spread across Clark County, which hit a seven-day case average of 708 on Monday. The county hasn’t seen numbers that high since early February. Hospitalizations, meanwhile, continue to also creep upward, with 840 people hospitalized in the county with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday.

Other counties, including Washoe, have started to see small increases in their case numbers as well, but Clark County is almost entirely responsible for the state’s rapidly worsening COVID-19 metrics. 

As of Monday, Nevada had the fifth most COVID-19 cases per capita reported over the last seven days in the nation, behind Arkansas, Missouri, Florida and Louisiana.

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