Tens of thousands of casino workers in Atlantic City and Las Vegas are in line to receive COVID-19 vaccinations before May 31. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Atlantic City vaccinations started March 29
Industry and union organizations in New Jersey and casinos in Las Vegas have rolled out programs aimed at vaccinating tens of thousands of casino workers by Memorial Day.
Casino workers in Atlantic City started receiving COVID-19 vaccinations on March 29 at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said via Twitter on March 30 that the collaboration between trade body The Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ), AtlantiCare, and UNITE HERE Local 54 would see 25,000 casino employees vaccinated by May 31.
President and CEO of AtlantiCare Lori Herndon said vaccinating local hospitality staff is “an important part of protecting our community.” Herdon added that the drive would also create a “safe, healthy environment” for visitors to the northeastern US region.
AtlantiCare is an Atlantic County-based integrated health system serving people in southeastern New Jersey. Local 54 is the largest private sector casino workers union in South Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania, and is an affiliate of the international labor union UNITE HERE.
In Las Vegas, meanwhile, MGM Resorts International began rolling out vaccines for its Strip employees on Tuesday at its Mandalay Bay resort convention center, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Caesars Entertainment follows suit on Thursday when it opens its inoculation clinic for Strip workers at the Rio All-Suites Hotel.
Southern Nevada’s vaccination acceleration
In Southern Nevada, health officials have earmarked almost half of the county’s allocation of public vaccinations to workers in the hospitality industry. Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokeswoman Shannon Litz said this week that hospitality staff would be in line for nearly 28,000 doses.
Greg Cassell, incident commander for the Southern Nevada Health District’s vaccination rollout, said a “healthy workforce is key” to getting the region’s “primary industry […] back up to speed.”
a critically important tool in helping to end the pandemic”
MGM Resorts echoed Cassell, saying the vaccinations were “a critically important tool in helping to end the pandemic and accelerate our community’s economic recovery.”
Caesars Entertainment said it had a target of 10,000 vaccinations in April. A county public health official told the Review-Journal on Monday that a minimum of two other casino operators are in line to roll out “similar programs by early next week.”
Hospitality industry workers seen as priority
The importance of fast-tracking Las Vegas casino, hotel, and hospitality workers for vaccinations has been a state priority for over two weeks. On March 11, Nevada’s pandemic response authorities issued a directive placing workers in Clark County’s “frontline commerce and service industries” into the vaccine eligibility bracket.
Cassell estimates employees in Sin City’s casino, hotel and hospitality industry number around 180,000. He believes the sped-up vaccinations will make a big difference quickly if all the Las Vegas workers within the industry bracket opt for the jabs, saying:
I would think we would have a very large dent in this in a three- to four-week span.”
According to spokesman Michael Weaver, Wynn Resorts has vaccinated around 3,000 employees at its Encore Las Vegas inoculation center since mid-January. Another local casino company, Station Casinos, opened permanent medical clinics for staff and their families last year at two of its Southern Nevada properties.