Safety through Surveillance: SNHD to monitor events at large venues


LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Because of Nevada’s downward trend in COVID-19 cases, state leaders are allowing events, like Golden Knights games and other large happenings, to bring in a small crowd. But how will current restrictions be monitored?

“We don’t want to risk the possibility of having to deal with outbreaks,” said Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD).

The health district’s goal is ensuring safety through surveillance. SNHD says its environmental health inspectors will be on-site at events at large venues, such as T-Mobile Arena and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as they welcome back spectators amid the pandemic.

LAS VEGAS, NV – FEBRUARY 23: A general view as fans watch Joey Logano (22) Team Penske Ford Mustang lead the race during the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube on February 23, 2020, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“They will visit those venues, and they look at the distribution of people on site,” Leguen said. “Also, they look at the people, whether they are wearing masks or facial coverings. Also, they are looking at the social distancing of the participants of the events and some other elements they have in the checklist of what they need to look for.”

SNHD will also track any positive cases that may come out of the events. But the health district is not in charge of enforcement; that is up to local jurisdictions.

Fans of the Vegas Golden Knights are ready for in-person games, and many tell 8 News Now they feel safer knowing the health district is watching.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – FEBRUARY 15: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights gives his stick to a young fan after defeating the New York Islanders at T-Mobile Arena on February 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

“Having that extra set of eyes out there just kind of wandering through is fine,” said fan Jules Burian.

Fan Michael Mack adds, “I think it’s great. I think they’re looking after our best interest.”

Even at 15% capacity, large venues can still have a lot of people. So, experts say having health officials involved is important.

“The goal is to make sure these events are not super-spreader events,” said Brian Labus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and an assistant professor at the UNLV School of Public Health. “We don’t want something to happen where thousands of people are infected at the events.”

It is all about being cautious, especially as our COVID numbers improve.

“That we don’t throw more fuel on a fire that is starting to go out,” Labus explained.

Some have questioned why larger venues are being capped at 15% right now. Health officials say they are trying to ease back into things, but they are watching our COVID numbers closely, so they can adjust their recommendations.

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