Washington state had the first fatal US case of COVID-19 virus as West Coast casinos and card rooms apparently will need to take steps and make plans to minimize the spread of the global illness.
Though risk of contracting the virus remains low in the US, there is concern in states like Washington, Oregon and California about the “community spread” of the illness. The Washington state man who died is believed to have gotten the disease from this type of transmission, health officials said on Saturday.
It is where patients get sick without having close contact with an infected person. Nor, have they visited relatively heavily infected regions, such as China, South Korea, Iran or Italy.
Washington state and Oregon both are home to several tribal casinos. California has multiple card rooms and tribal gaming properties.
Casino.org reached out to several Los Angeles region card rooms, but their spokespeople did not return calls or emails to comment about preventative steps they may be taking given the COVID-19 outbreak.
Recommendations for Hotel Disinfection
On Friday, a spokesman for Ecolab, a global provider of hygiene technology and services to the hospitality and other sectors, repeated key guidelines being released by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Good personal hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of infection,” Ecolab said in a statement given to Casino.org.
These include washing hands frequently with soap and water. If they are not available, people should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Also, people should minimize close contact with those who have symptoms of respiratory illness, the statement adds.
Beyond these steps, Ecolab, generally, when it comes to preventing the spread of illness at hotels, recommends providing tissues and hand sanitizer stations. Disinfectants should be stocked at the hotel, too.
In guest rooms, hotel staff should thoroughly clean and disinfect all hard surfaces. Guest rooms should have individual laundry bags.
Frequently touched spots in a guest room need to be kept clean, too. Examples of less obvious items include the luggage rack, curtain handles and hangers.
Also, in public areas, such as a lobby or restaurant, the hotel should increase cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces. Hotels should also place alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations outside of public restrooms.
The hotel should have a contingency plan in case a property has an outbreak of an illness. A hotel should also encourage employees showing symptoms of an illness to stay at home, the recommendations say. There are specific guidelines for kitchens and back-of-house operations, as well.
Earlier this week, Wynn Las Vegas told Casino.org the gaming property installed “hand sanitizers in public areas” and “back-of-house for team members.” The installation was described as a “precaution” and the company adds, “safeguarding the health of our guests and employees is of the highest importance.”
To reduce the risk of illness, health officials and Ecolab recommend a more thorough washing of hands. For instance, hands should be scrubbed for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to clean under fingernails and between fingers.
US-based casino operators and related hospitality organizations are monitoring the viral outbreak and are apparently following recommendations from local and national health officials. For instance, the Southern Nevada Health District regularly trains with public and private partners, and there are plans and guidance in place for illness outbreaks, VitalVegas.com recently tweeted.
Casino Operators’ Reports Note Potential Impact from Coronavirus
Some global casino operators advised investors this week that the outbreak could have a negative impact, especially with the prior shutdown of casinos on Macau in China.
On Friday, Wynn said in an annual report the outbreak “has had and will have an adverse effect on our results of operations,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. In its annual report, Caesars said that business may be “adversely affected” if there is “business disruption, reduced customer traffic and reduced operations,” the newspaper added.
Wynn’s shutdown cost the company between $2.4 million and $2.6 million a day — and MGM said it lost about $1.5 million of operating expenses during the shutdown, the Review-Journal reported. US casinos remain open with no known cases of COVID-19 virus in Las Vegas.
Twenty-four Asian airlines are canceling March flights to and from Macau due to the virus. US carriers are limiting or temporarily halting flights to and from highly impacted areas, too.
Back in the US, there are concerns if a possible outbreak of the virus infected multiple people in a single Washington state facility. It was revealed on Saturday, 27 patients and 25 employees were showing symptoms associated with coronavirus at Life Care Center, a nursing home in Kirkland. One resident and one healthcare worker were reported to have the illness.
Public events and conferences are getting canceled in the US and globally, too. The outbreak has led to the cancellation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, as well as a large Google meeting, both of which had been scheduled for Las Vegas in March.
Some 13 percent of Americans questioned in a recent survey, said they canceled or changed travel plans due to the coronavirus, CNN reported. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey involved some 1,200 respondents.
So far, there is no COVID-19 vaccine, though Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna and Israel’s Galilee Research Institute are hopeful they may be able to provide one after review by regulators.