With the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Southern Nevada announced on Thursday, it’s raising high concerns for Las Vegas tourists and locals alike.
MGM Resorts International, who runs Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, the Mirage, Aria, Vdara, Excalibur, Luxor, New York-New York, Park MGM, and part of the T-Mobile Arena, are “reinforcing proactive cleaning” by deploying hand sanitizers in high-traffic areas on the separate properties.
According to Brian Ahern, a spokesman for MGM Resorts, they are focusing on boosting their “disinfectant procedures.” The thinking is that by ensuring guests are keeping their hands clean and giving them more tools to do that, it helps reduce the risk of spreading any potential viruses.
Las Vegas Sands Corp., who operates the Palazzo and The Venetian, is also echoing the proactive disinfectant measure by placing more and more hand sanitizing stations throughout the two properties.
Additional staff has also been employed to help wipe down and disinfect restroom counters, stalls, and “high touchpoints” including escalator rails and elevator buttons.
Tourists Express Doubt Over Cleaning Efforts
Many tourists who are guests at these properties say the cleaning efforts haven’t been obvious enough. They agree that without the breaking news reports on TV and the internet, the casinos haven’t made a big effort to really inform guests of what’s going on.
“If we didn’t hear about it on TV or the newspapers, we wouldn’t even know (there was an outbreak),” said Ontario-based tourist Pauline Murray, a guest who is staying at Caesars Palace with her husband this week.
“To me, there’s nothing. There’s no signs anywhere telling people to be diligent about sanitizing their hands,” Murray said.
Her husband, Dale Murray, echoed the sentiment: “They’re putting their heads in the sand.”
Pittsburgh natives Tyrone Dickey and his wife, bi-annual Vegas visitors who are staying at the Hilton Elara, say they haven’t noticed more cleaning being done than usual. They haven’t noticed any increased efforts at other properties they’re been visiting as well, including TI, Caesars Palace, and Bellagio.
A North Dakota resident, Kirk Waslien, says he didn’t see staff regularly wiping down gaming machines during his week-long trip. He did, however, notice that New York-New York put a hand sanitizer machine near the entrance of their casino, but said it was empty.
“Everybody’s touching the same things,” Wasilen said.
Hospitality Scholars Believe the Casinos are Being Proactive
While certain tourists are feeling discouraged by the Strip’s casinos cleaning efforts, Mehmet Erdem, associate professor of hospitality at UNLV, believes the Strip’s properties are being proactive in their cleaning efforts.
“When one considers the volume of foot-traffic in and out of the Strip properties…the public areas and casino floors are unbelievably clean,” Erdem said via email. “There is already plenty of evidence of visible precautionary measures at many Strip properties, i.e. hand sanitizers by cashier-desks (and) cashiers wearing gloves.”
Associate professor of hospitality and tourism management at Indiana’s Purdue University, Jonathan Day, commented on the extreme importance of casino operators to get their guests to visibly take notice of their cleaning efforts, as it “helps put customers at ease and enhance customer relations.”
“People are looking for cues that show the companies are caring and they’re working on their behalf,” Day said. “It’s a chance to show how much you care, and create a safe place for people to relax and enjoy.”
Reaction to the Virus Have Been Mixed in the Valley
While the outbreak has been weighing on the minds of many travelers in Las Vegas after news broke of the first Clark County case, for some, it hasn’t affected too many of their plans.
Kansas City native Stephanie Rogge, who’s in Las Vegas until Sunday, says she’s while she’s been thinking about the outbreak, she hasn’t let it put a dent in her itinerary, which includes gambling.
“I did wonder, ‘Well, how is this (game) sanitized?’” Rogge said. “But ultimately, we still did it.”
Rogge did say that she has been taking more precautions while exploring the Strip, which includes carrying around hand sanitizers and being mindful of what her hands are touching.
Industry Workers are Fearful of Job Security
For those who work in the industry entertaining the many tourists that touch down in Las Vegas, they’re more fearful when it comes to job security. If the casinos temporarily lose, so do workers. This is the concern running through the minds of showgirls, housekeepers, and F&B employees.
Local taxi driver, David Swank, says he’s been keeping up on the news religiously.
“I used to wait only around 25 minutes to pick people up at the airport. Recently, I’ve been waiting 45 minutes,” Swank said. “My girlfriend works for a resort on the Strip and she is worried about losing shifts and maybe even her job.”
Amid coronavirus concerns, we’re sure more Strip properties will begin ramping up their sanitation efforts to give their guests peace of mind.
Do you think the Strip casino operators are doing enough to ease outbreak concerns?