Las Vegas gaming industry offers COVID-19 testing for employees before they return to work

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FILE – In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York’s Long Island. Wide scale testing is a critical part of tracking and containing infectious diseases. But the U.S. effort has been plagued by a series of missteps, including accuracy problems with the test kits the CDC sent to other labs and bureaucratic hurdles that slowed the entrance of large, private sector labs. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In a broad collaborative plan created by business and community leaders to get people back to work while making sure they’re safe, Las Vegas gaming and resort properties will partner with University Medical Center (UMC), the Culinary Health Fund, and the Las Vegas Convention Center to provide COVID-19 testing for gaming employees prior to their return to work. 

The testing will be conducted at the Las Vegas Convention Center as properties reopen at the direction of State officials.

“The ability to safely reopen our properties has been our singular focus over the past several weeks,” said Bill Hornbuckle, Acting CEO and President of MGM Resorts International. “This testing partnership will allow us to provide our employees and guests peace of mind that we are taking the greatest possible precautions to keep them safe.”

In addition to MGM properties, Caesars and Boyd properties will also participate in the COVID-19 employee testing plan. 

“Caesars appreciates the gaming industry and union partnership with UMC to test our employees for COVID-19,” said Tony Rodio, CEO, Caesars Entertainment. “All Caesars employees would complete a pre-screening questionnaire, and the results would determine the need for a COVID-19 test before returning to work,” he added.

UMC and the Culinary Health Fund will work together to collect up to 4,000 samples per day for testing. 

“COVID-19 testing ensures that Culinary Union members are safe when they return to work,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union. “The health and safety of both workers and casino guests is our top priority.”

UMC CEO Mason VanHouweling noted his facility has significantly increased its testing capacity as a result of the efforts of the Governor’s COVID-19 Response, Relief, and Recovery Task Force, that is being led by longtime gaming industry leader, Jim Murren.

“As we prepare to reopen our southern Nevada properties, the health and safety of our customers, our team members, and our communities is our utmost priority,” said Keith Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boyd Gaming. “Through this expansion of our partnership with UMC, we can do our part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and demonstrate our commitment to offering a safe and entertaining environment for everyone.”

Testing is expected to begin on May 21 and will continue as employees are called back to work. Employees called back to work will have to schedule an appointment for their test, with results confirmed within 48-hours of testing. Positive results will be provided to the employee and forwarded to the Southern Nevada Health District for contact tracing. 

“In response to this unprecedented public health crisis, we have seen an unparalleled level of collaboration between private industry, community leaders, and the health care community,” said VanHouweling. “As a result of the hard work and dedication of our health care professionals on the front lines of this crisis, UMC now has the capacity to run 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day. With valuable support from our community partners, this increased testing capacity allows UMC to detect new cases of COVID-19 and safeguard the health of our friends, neighbors, and family members across Southern Nevada.”

Workers will receive information on testing and scheduling appointments from the Culinary Union and their employers.  

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