If Las Vegas falls further into the abyss because of COVID-19 restrictions, New Year’s Eve partygoers can take the blame. This is the position of a Nevada health official, who believes anyone who dropped in on Vegas to say farewell to 2020 and welcome in 2021 should now assume they are infected with the virus. He added that they could now be spreading the coronavirus without even realizing it, and that ignoring recommendations to avoid gathering on the streets of Sin City may end up costing more than what the celebrators had bargained for.
In an interview with local media outlet KTNV-TV, Nevada’s COVID-19 expert, Caleb Cage, pointed out that Vegas visitors on New Year’s may have been exposed to the virus and that they might now be helping spread it, even if they aren’t showing any symptoms. He added that the choice to ignore health warnings recommending everyone avoid congregating to ring in the new year may prove costly, adding, “It was a risk to go out on New Year’s Eve. The governor made it clear.” Cage is more than just a scientific source on COVID-19; he was also infected with the virus.
Nevada had placed a restriction on gatherings a few months ago, limiting the number of people to 50. This position was reiterated ahead of the typically bustling atmosphere of Vegas to celebrate the new year, and a number of photos circulating social media and news sites show large clusters of people, some of whom aren’t wearing masks. Ahead of the expected New Year’s Eve crowds, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak tried to motivate would-be revelers to stay away from inundating popular hotspots, asserting, “To organize or promote gatherings with the tickets or fee as if it’s business as usual, that’s just plain irresponsible. The science prevails, and the science says the more people in a gathering, it is guaranteed that a portion are going to have COVID, either symptomatic or asymptomatic.”
Megan Brownhill, who mans a temporary tattoo booth on the Fremont Street Experience in Vegas, knows first-hand how out of control the situation was. Despite the FSE supposedly only being open to local hotel guests on New Year’s Eve, she saw how the streets were flooded with people and was even fined because some of her customers didn’t wear masks. Since one of her coworkers tested positive for COVID-19 recently, she’s concerned that a new spike could be coming.
Las Vegas sits in Clark County, which holds two-thirds of Nevada’s population. It is also where 2,424 coronavirus deaths, out of the state total of 3,210, have been reported. For now, area residents should be extra cautious with their personal interactions and health officials are going to monitor the situation more closely to see if additional outbreaks occur.