Clark County data suggests casinos are worse than prison for COVID

Jon Pill
Published by:
Posted on: September 23, 2020 6:44 pm EDT

Clark County, Nevada recently released a survey of track and trace data that shows the places most visited by people who later came down with the COVID-19 virus.

This data puts the Cosmopolitan Hotel at the top of their list of specific locations. A total of 304 of Clark County’s recent COVID cases had previously passed through, worked at, or stayed in the Cosmo. 

It should be noted that this data doesn’t mean that the COVID sufferers picked up the novel coronavirus in the hallowed halls of the Cosmo. Correlation doesn’t mean causation. But it might not be a coincidence that at least two of the Cosmopolitan’s staff are among those who have tested positive.

This data set also doesn’t include out-of-towners who visited the county and then tested positive after they had returned home.

Freedom of movement

Clark County describes a rough triangle at the southernmost point of Nevada. It’s the home of the City of Las Vegas and the adjacent, unincorporated city of Paradise. This is where most of the Vegas Strip is located, along with McCarren International and U.N.L.V.

Clark County is home to about 2.2 million of Nevada’s 3 million residents. It has a rotating population of fun-seekers, holidaymakers, and other assorted out-of-towners from all over the world.

So Clark County’s numbers matter for Nevada, sure. But they also matter for the U.S. as a whole, and for any nation with a loosey-goosey quarantine policy that still keeps the U.S. on its white-list. 

Contrary to the old advertising phrase, when it comes to epidemiology, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay there.

Breakdown of a breakout

Given the size of casino-hotel complexes both as employers and as service providers in Clark County, it would be no surprise if they were the major cause of spread. The numbers suggest exactly how big the problem might be.

The Cosmo wasn’t the only hotel to be named and shamed. In the breakdown of specific locations, eight of the top ten were hospitals. The other two were the Clark County Detention Center and Saguro Detention Centre. Neither of the prisons were in the top 5.

Some of the other non-casino/hotel sites on the list included Amazon Fulfillment Centers, hospitals, and the airport.

In fact, hotels “win” by a comfortable margin when you break the data down by industry.  

The “Hotel/Motel” category saw 1,581 cases. The catch-all category of “Other” is just a couple of hundred behind that. Meanwhile, the next highest specific industry is “food establishment,” with less than half of “Hotel/Motel” at just 712 cases. 

A few months ago, Mayor Goodman suggested that opening up the casino and hotel businesses of Vegas would give the U.S. a control group to compare to the rest of the country.

The data on that experiment is now in.

If you want to avoid being intubated in Clark County, then your odds might be better in jail than playing poker on the Strip.

The top 10 by industry

  1. Hotel/Motel – 1581 
  2. Other – 1361 
  3. Food Establishment – 714 
  4. Clinic / Doctor’s Office – 409
  5. Long‐term Care Facility – 234
  6. Hospital / ICP – 232 
  7. Group Living Environment, Hotel/Motel – 187 
  8. Correctional Facility – 83 
  9. Correctional Facility, Clinic / Doctor’s Office – 82 
  10. Laboratory, Hospital / ICP – 49 

The top 10 business sites

  1. Cosmopolitan – 304
  2. Bellagio – 153
  3. MGM Grand Hotel – 133
  4. The Venetian – 89
  5. Caesars Palace – 86
  6. Clark County Detention Center – 82
  7. Aria – 72
  8. Mandalay Bay – 67
  9. Wynn Las Vegas – 65
  10. Saguaro Detention Center – 63