Following a new state mandate requiring everyone to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status, the CEO of the state’s largest employer asked employees to get vaccinated to avoid potential furloughs and layoffs if Clark County’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb and tourism potentially drops.
MGM Resorts president and CEO Bill Hornbuckle sent a letter to employees on Wednesday pleading employees to get vaccinated. “In addition to the heart-wrenching thought of more illness and death, I fear that progressively more restrictive measures, including a return to social distancing and capacity restrictions, could be around the corner if we continue on this path. This would be a significant blow to our community, industry, and economy.”
On Friday, the state’s latest mandate requiring masks indoors goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. as 12 of 17 counties in Nevada are experiencing a new surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. As of July 27, only 44.1 percent of Clark County residents are fully vaccinated.
“So please, get the vaccine as soon as possible. It is safe, and it is effective. If you’re still unsure, ask your doctor — the person you trust most to provide informed, professional medical advice regarding the health of you and your family,” Horbuckle writes in his letter.
Hornbuckle warned that the county’s low vaccination rate could bring new social distancing and capacity limits. “None of us want that,” Hornbuckle says in the letter. “After the pain endured by so many these past 16 months — and the tremendous progress made in 2021 — I can think of no more damaging scenario for us as a community.”
Clark County lifted capacity limits and social distancing requirements in June after a year of COVID-19 restrictions, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board allowed many casinos to return to 100 percent capacity in May. MGM Resorts reached an 80 percent vaccination rate among its employees in May, when it removed barriers at gaming tables and empty chairs between slot machines. MGM Resorts operates the Bellagio, Aria, Park MGM, New York-New York, MGM Grand, Excalibur, Luxor, Mirage, Mandalay Bay, and more on the Las Vegas Strip.
MGM Resorts offered an on-site inoculation site at Mandalay Bay Convention Center that put shots in arms for thousands of employees, their families, third-party partners, and entertainers. Community Ambulance also conducted pop-up vaccine clinics at every one of MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas properties. Employees who uploaded their CDC vaccination cards into MGM Resorts’ internal portal were entered into drawings for a chance to win show tickets, restaurant vouchers, spa vouchers, hotel stays/experiences, and cash.
Hornbuckle’s letter comes as the gaming company starts regular COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated employees, who must either pay a $15 co-payment for onsite testing or take a PCR test elsewhere and provide the results. The company will require employees who test positive or come into close contact with someone who tested positive to quarantine, and unvaccinated employees will not be paid for their time off during quarantine.
Nevada’s latest COVID-19 numbers bring 1,179 new coronavirus cases and 20 deaths as of Tuesday. The state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate reached 14 percent.