While Las Vegas is currently experiencing a shutdown like never seen before with the mandated 30-day closure of casinos and nonessential businesses, it’s still business as usual for the valley’s construction workers.
In fact, the shutdown has allowed for an opportune time for various projects to be worked on in light of fewer vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
But it’s not just in Las Vegas either. Leaders throughout the U.S. gave the construction sector the green light to stay in operation during the pandemic, so long as extra precautions are put into place to keep job sites safe.
Gov. Sisolak classified construction and homebuilding as “essential” businesses last week in his public health crisis announcement, in addition to grocery stores, gas stations, police and fire departments, and hospitals to name a few.
Las Vegas’ 2020 Construction Boom
This new year, into next year, will see the completion of a surge of massive, city-changing projects for Las Vegas.
The most notable one being the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium, which will serve as the home football stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Outside of the Vegas’ first football stadium, new hotels are nearing completion, like Downtown Las Vegas’ Circa Resort and Resorts World Las Vegas. The new entertainment stadium, MGM Sphere, is set to be completed next year.
Besides stadiums and hotels, new apartments, shopping centers, and warehouses are popping up all across town.
The coronavirus closures will allow more daylight hours for certain construction projects, especially roadwork projects on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Safety Guidelines Implemented
Construction sites have implemented new policies and procedures to maintain a higher level of safety during the outbreak.
Those include ensuring 6 feet of space between workers, as per the State’s official guidelines, limiting meetings or gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, and checking on workers’ health conditions daily.
Daily health surveys include daily temperature checks on workers for sites like Resorts World Las Vegas. The site has also added more hand-washing stations and bumped up disinfecting measures on their portable restrooms.
Resorts World Management advised they rolled out these policies to “minimize the risk of coronavirus.” Their new safety policies come on the heels on one of their site worker’s testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.
On the Allegiant Stadium site, every worker was asked to undergo a verbal health screening, the number of workers in specific areas have been limited, and sanitization has increased significantly, especially in high-traffic areas where cleanings happen a few times daily.
Outside Work Considered ‘Advantageous’
While construction workers are being expected to adhere to the newly imposed policies, their work conditions are considered “advantageous” by health professionals.
Noah Seixas, director of the University of Washington’s Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety, said working outdoors is “advantageous” since airborne materials are able to dissipate more easily.
While that’s the case, not all construction work is performed outdoors, which has caused some worries to arise.
While construction workers seem to have an advantage when it comes to being outdoor, the sting of the outbreak is being felt everywhere…even in their industry.
“People are nervous. … You can kind of feel it in the air,” said a Resorts World worker.
And they’re not immune to contracting the virus, either.
Just this week, another worker at the Allegiant Stadium construction site tested positive for COVID-19. This happened a day before the positive testing came out for the worker at Resorts World.
In regards to the stadium case, Gov. Sisolak was asked whether or not he thought it was best to suspend construction statewide, to which he said that the more cases come to light, the more he will “continue to consult with the medical advisory team and evaluate any new decisions that need to be made.”
With two cases reported in the Las Vegas construction industry as of now, it’s hard to tell whether cases will increase and if that industry as a whole will be impacted similarly to the way the casino industry has been hit in this town.
We can only continue to monitor the news for updates to see if any new patterns emerge. Stay tuned and stay safe out there.