MGM Changes COVID Testing for Workers; Nevada Reiterates Masking
As COVID-19 remains an issue in the US, MGM Resorts is changing it testing process for unvaccinated workers and Nevada regulators reiterate the need for masking.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus is alive and well in the United States. The omicron variant has taken hold and seems to be adding up to hundreds if not thousands of positive tests across the country. In Nevada, the virus is heavily present and it is causing some decisions to be made by casino operators and regulators. MGM Resorts has decided to change its testing process for employees that refuse to be vaccinated. Regulators in the state are reiterating to operators that masks need to be implemented as the New Year approaches.
MGM Resorts Adds New Testing Process
MGM Resorts has had a difficult time getting employees to take the COVID-19 vaccination. This week, CEO Bill Hornbuckle wrote a letter to the company’s employees stating that by January 10, any non-vaccinated worker will need to test on a weekly basis and pay for the test themselves.
Hourly workers will need to provide evidence of a negative test every seven days. The cost is $75 per test. Employees will not be allowed to complete on-site testing while they are on the clock. Testing can be completed off-site and the results uploaded to employee accounts. Rapid tests are not allowed, and only those that are lab-based antigen or PCR are allowed.
MGM Resorts offers casino gaming at more than one location on the Strip in Las Vegas. The employer is concerned that the omicron variant may affect its operations if employees are not held accountable. The company feels that this new testing process will help slow the spread.
It is expected that some employees will quit or become vaccinated to avoid paying for testing each week.
Enforce the State-Wide Mask Mandate
On December 29, the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued a notice to license holders that stated all casinos must follow the emergency directive of the state which includes masks in public settings. Even those who are fully vaccinated must wear a mask indoors.
The mandate is strictly for areas in the state where the transmission of the virus is high. In six counties, the rate is low to moderate, so the mask mandate is not in effect. However, Las Vegas falls into the high category and requires masking.
The mandate was put in place back in July and remained in effect ever since. However, casinos have been lax on the matter, especially over the past few months. The gaming regulator is now calling out these operators and saying that if masks are not worn, then penalties will be issued.
New Year’s Eve celebrations are still taking place in Las Vegas, so the regulators want to make sure that everyone stays safe and avoids spreading the virus. Fireworks as well as other activities are still on the schedule thus far for Las Vegas.
It is expected that around 300,000 people or more will celebrate the year ending in Las Vegas on the Strip this weekend. That is a large grouping of people and casinos will have to make sure they enforce the mask mandate, which may prove difficult at times.
We should see in the coming days if any operator fails to do so as well as how the city is affected by the potential spread of the virus. Hopefully everyone will celebrate safely and be able to avoid transmitting or catching the virus, be it the standard variant or the omicron type.