With COVID again crashing the party, it’s time for vax mandates By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports July 28, 2021 at 7:04 pm It’s safe to say that no place on the planet loves a celebration more than Las Vegas. Perhaps that’s what made the sudden silence associated with its dormancy during the height of the coronavirus pandemic seem all the more eerie and depressing. In the anti-social-distancing capital of the world, we were told to back up, mask up, and wash up. At one point, visitors were told to go home and bunker up. With the death toll rising, a historic effort generated multiple vaccines. Remarkably, in record time, we were asked to vax up in order to get back to the business of living, which includes celebrating in Las Vegas. Casinos known for their wide-open style went through a dramatic transformation to defend against the spread of the virus with sheets of Plexiglass and new slogans about social distancing and face covering. And they did something else they’re not known for. They practiced surprising patience in a state in which their political clout is undeniable and rarely challenged. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak gave regular reports on the progress against the virus and the measures the state was taking to fight the good fight, even as the economy was cratering and unscientific “experts” were decrying mask wearing and vilifying the vaccine. For a time, it seemed to be working. Shutterstock Those were some amazing weeks, weren’t they? A better-than-fair effort resulted in steep declines in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Although the toll overall was tragic beyond words, the possibility of overcoming a worldwide killer was within our grasp. It took me awhile to come out of the basement, metaphorically speaking. Social skills mastered by the average fifth grader had to be relearned. But with the numbers, falling it was possible to smile and laugh again with family and friends over cocktails or a dinner. The Strip was again a crush of humanity all seeking a good time as they defined it. The traffic was once again maddening. Resorts World opened June 24 amid the kind of fanfare we once took for granted. It was a reminder that the resort was the first built on the Strip in more than a decade. The Genting Group poured $4.3 billion into an 88-acre property with more than 3,500 rooms that was once the site of the legendary Stardust. Beyond the structure was the symbolism: Las Vegas was back in the game. As an AP reporter enthused, “Fifteen months after the pandemic transformed Las Vegas from flamboyant spectacle to ghost town, Sin City is back.” Vice President Kamala Harris took her “America’s Back Together” road show to celebrate the progress being made on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight. She also reminded everyone listening that the fight wasn’t over and that getting more vaccine into more arms was essential if the good times were going to get better. By Whispyhistory – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99366141 Painfully, despite the effort, Nevada is still well below the nationwide average for the fully vaccinated 12 and older. With less than 50 percent fully vaccinated, it’s no time to celebrate. But the pathetic reality is, the vaccine rollout, despite an over-the-top effort, hadn’t produced the numbers necessary to provide the level of protection needed to stop the spread of the virus. There are many reasons for this, but frankly I’m tired of hearing all the political deception and outright lies being spread about masks and the vaccines’ efficacy. Too many people are either too delusional or too daffy to do the right thing for themselves, their families, and their communities. It’s been said many times, but if there had been this attitude during the 1918 influenza, when mask wearing, washing, and social distancing were the only precautions available, millions would have died in the country. If this attitude prevailed during the polio crisis, we’d still be afflicted with thousands of needless polio cases. So it is with the politics surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. With Nevada once again among the nation’s leaders in the worst COVID categories, the vaccine should be mandated for the workplace and the schools. The powerful casino industry should lead the way in this area. And it should have allies in other industries large and small in an effort to compel people to comply or stay home. The coronavirus pandemic has provided a tragic, but undeniable, reminder that we are all in this fight together. If you want the celebration to last, it’s long past time to do your part.