LAS VEGAS – If Caesars Entertainment employees do not get tested for COVID-19 by the end of next week, they will be knocked off the schedule.
In response to a spike in coronavirus cases recorded across the country, the hotel-casino company has required all employees in Southern Nevada to get tested.
"We thought mandatory testing would be a good way to identify employees who might be positive for COVID-19 without knowing it and wouldn’t realize they could be spreading the virus at work," the company said in a statement.
Workers at Caesars Palace, Paris, Flamingo, Harrah's and Nobu have until July 17 to get tested.
"They will be removed from the schedule if they fail to do so," the company said.
Maskless workers risk termination
In an internal memo sent last week, Caesars Entertainment CEO Tony Rodio told employees that not wearing a mask is grounds for firing.
"We made this policy change because COVID-19 continues to spread in the U.S., including in areas that previously did not have many cases," Rodio said. "Masks and social distancing have been demonstrated to be effective in reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19."
Employees must play a part in stemming the spread of the contagious respiratory illness, he said, or there will be consequences.
"Please take note," Rodio said, "the failure to wear your mask at work will be grounds for termination."
Nevada's casinos reopened June 4 under new restrictions, including reduced occupancy, more space between gamblers and severely curtailed limits for meeting and convention spaces.
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The Silver State's most powerful labor union soon after called on state leaders to require visitors to wear masks in all public spaces at hotel-casinos to protect workers. People have died from COVID-19 in 17 Culinary Union families, according to Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline.
Pressure from the union and surging cases led Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak to announce on June 24 that all Nevadans must wear masks while in public, including in private businesses.
Compliance with Nevada’s mandatory mask requirement improved among businesses that were inspected after the Fourth of July weekend.
The rate of compliance among the 169 locations visited by inspectors on July 6 improved to 87% statewide, according to the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations.
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COVID-19 cases surge in Nevada
The known number of Nevadans who have tested positive for COVID-19 reached 24,904 on Thursday morning, according to the Nevada Health Alliance dashboard. That’s an increase of 603 new cases over what was previously reported on Wednesday morning.
Officials identified 18 more deaths due to COVID-19 — four in Washoe County and 14 in Clark County — bringing Nevada's total number of coronavirus-related deaths to 571.
Not all of the 18 coronavirus-related deaths occurred in the past 24 hours. Most were cases identified from fatalities in previous days.
The seven-day rolling average for positive tests fell for the second straight day to 11.6%, the lowest since June 23 but still well above the World Health Organization's goal of 5%.
Nevada's effective reproduction number has dropped to 1.12 — roughly speaking, each person with coronavirus in Nevada goes on to infect 1.12 other people.
Nevada now has the 27th-highest effective reproduction number in the U.S., a marked improvement from earlier this month when it was higher than every other state.
Ed Komenda writes about Las Vegas for the Reno Gazette Journal and USA Today Network. Do you care about democracy? Then support local journalism by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal right here.
This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Caesars Entertainment now requiring COVID-19 testing for all employees