Don't Go Here While the Delta Variant Is Surging, Experts Warn
Several officials are warning against travel to this popular destination.
The Delta variant has brought on a new surge of COVID cases in the U.S. Overall cases in the country have increased by nearly 50 percent in the last week, with more than 80 percent of these new cases being caused by infections with the variant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But some states are experiencing higher infection rates than others, which means you should travel with caution.
Even with restrictions lifted, officials across the U.S. are warning against travel to Las Vegas as the Delta variant continues to keep its hold on the city—even for those vaccinated. In California, both Contra Costa County and Los Angeles County have warned residents against travel to Las Vegas and Nevada. And the entire state of Nevada was just added to Chicago's reimposed list of travel advisory states.
"It's really important to remember that, as far as COVID goes, what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas," Contra Costa County Health Officer Chris Farnitano, MD, said in a statement, per NBC.
In Hawaii, Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami warned residents on July 21 to skip trips to Las Vegas, blaming the city for its own recent spike in COVID cases, per ABC-affiliate KITV Island News. "Among our recent cases since we've had the surge over the last month, many of those had mainland travel and of those … many of those went to Vegas," Kauai District Health Officer Janet Berreman, MD, confirmed during a press conference.
According to The New York Times, COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have risen in Clark County—where Las Vegas is—recently. There has been a 74 percent increase in new cases and a 102 percent increase in hospitalizations over the last two weeks. Much of this surge can be attributed to the Delta variant. The CDC reports that as of July 3, Nevada has the second-highest rate of Delta variant cases in the U.S., just behind Missouri, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Around 71 percent of sequenced Nevada COVID cases are infections with the Delta variant.
The White House's Community Profile Report released July 23 added Clark County as an "area of concern" and "sustained hotspot" for coronavirus transmission. The entire state of Nevada is also considered a "high transmission state," the report says. But according to the Kauai District Health Office, high transmission in Las Vegas isn't the only concern. Several conditions for the popular tourist destination make it a significant hub for spread.
"The popular activities are largely indoors and can be crowded. Visitors stay indoors for prolonged periods, mingling with others from all over the country. Masks are not required. The result is a set-up for the spread of COVID-19," the health department explained in a July 19 Facebook post.
On July 22, Clark County reimposed mask mandates for employees who work indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. No such mask mandates were put in place for others in these indoor spaces, however—though the county does recommend it.
"Due to concerns about increasing COVID-19 caseloads, local businesses will be asked to post new signage asking people to follow Health District guidance recommending everyone to wear masks in crowded indoor public places where they may have contact with others who are not fully vaccinated," Clark County stated in a recent announcement.