Las Vegas is a huge COVID risk, health officials warn


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Health officials are warning travel-antsy Americans to think twice before visiting certain places that could be COVID-19 hotspots.

This includes a popular weekend destination in the west, Las Vegas.

“The biggest hotspot for bringing COVID home to Kaua’i? Las Vegas,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami of Kaua’i County, Hawaii.

The state’s Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is also a physician, said people heading to ‘sin city’ are taking a huge risk: “You will very likely catch COVID if you go to Las Vegas.”  

The White House considers Las Vegas to be a “sustained hot spot,” which is defined as a community that has “had a high sustained case burden and may be higher risk for experiencing healthcare resource limitations.”

In the last seven days, the Southern Nevada Health District reports that Las Vegas had 3,179 confirmed COVID-19 cases – that’s just the people who actually got tested.

On July 22, the district said Clark County – where Las Vegas is located – has had a total of 148 breakthrough hospitalizations and 26 breakthrough deaths. “Breakthrough” means people who were vaccinated and still were positive for COVID-19.

The city’s case rate is also vastly higher than in Henderson, the Nevada township with the second-highest number of new cases in the last seven days, at 613.

According to a Las Vegas report released on July 21, positive cases in the city have been steadily rising since about June 6.

KRON4’s Will Tran spoke to travelers at San Francisco International Airport for their thoughts on the risk of waking up in Vegas.

“If they’re vaccinated then they can do whatever they want. And if they’re not and they get COVID, that’s on them,” Brian Loehr said.

Another traveler was more cautious: “If you’re not vaccinated, you shouldn’t go. And if you’re vaccinated maybe you shouldn’t go either given how little we know about it. It’s a risk I’m not willing to take,” said Ruth Marinshaw.

The Southern Nevada Health District has recommended that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a face mask “in crowded indoor public places where they may have contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.”

KRON4’s sister station, KLAS, contributed to this report.

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