The novel COVID-19 coronavirus that has infected more than 93,00 people globally – the vast majority in China – has made its way to the Las Vegas Valley.
The Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) confirmed today that a man in his 50s who had recently traveled to Washington state and Texas had tested “presumptive positive” for the deadly disease. A sample from the man has been sent to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for official confirmation, a process that could take up to 48 hours.
While the COVID-19 outbreak is a serious public health threat, the immediate risk from the virus to the general public in Clark County and the United States remains low at this time,” a SNHD release stated.
Nevada health officials provided few details regarding the contaminated individual, including where he is being quarantined in airborne isolation. However, an online tracking map of COVID-19 produced by Johns Hopkins University based on information from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows an infected patient at the VA hospital in North Las Vegas.
The coronavirus is responsible for more than 3,200 deaths. WHO says there are 108 confirmed cases in the US, and the disease is responsible for 44 deaths.
On High Alert
Few cities rely on tourism and convention business as much as Las Vegas. The coronavirus is causing chaos among global markets, and casting much uncertainty over the Southern Nevada economy.
US indexes have been on a roller coaster ride over the last two weeks. On Thursday, shares again tumbled, as the virus continues to quickly spread in the states. Several of Nevada’s largest employers experience substantial losses.
MGM Resorts: -12 percent
Wynn Resorts: -9.9 percent
Boyd Gaming: -9.3 percent
Caesars Entertainment: -5.7 percent
Las Vegas Sands: -4.4 percent
“This is perhaps the most extensive hit we have seen in the worldwide travel industry since 9/11,” said Henry Harteveldt, president of the global travel industry advisory firm Atmosphere Research Group.
The first confirmed COVID-19 case in Southern Nevada comes just hours after two major trade shows – next week’s CONEXPO-CON/AGG and April’s National Association of Broadcasters – both said their events were still on. The NFL Draft planned for April at the Bellagio, the pro football league says, is also moving forward as planned.
Other major conventions aren’t risking it. Notable conventions that have been canceled include the NXT Global Summit, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Adobe Summit.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) said it’s taking several steps to assure the safety of all attendees at its Convention Center. The agency is increasing cleaning protocols to include more frequent wiping and sterilizing of door handles, elevator buttons, handrails, and restrooms, and added hand sanitizers throughout the complex.
The LVCVA additionally says it’s increasing the outside air intake/air change rates during active conventions. Food handlers have been instructed to more frequently wash their hands, and hand sanitizers are being stationed at all food serving areas.