LAS VEGAS — A year after the coronavirus pandemic hobbled tourist-dependent Nevada and pushed its unemployment rate to about 30%, things feel like they're starting to turn around, U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen said Tuesday.
Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, toured the New York-New York casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip and nearby T-Mobile arena as part of her work chairing a new Senate subcommittee focused on tourism and travel.
“I think everyone is feeling hopeful. They’re feeling excited,” Rosen said. “People feel positive about moving forward, safely, and trying to take care.”
The senator spoke to reporters from a lounge in the arena overlooking the ice rink where the Vegas Golden Knights play. Rosen was led on the tour by arena vice-president and general manager Dan Quinn, who explained how the facility had adjusted to slowly increasing caps on visitor capacity set by the governor.
In Las Vegas and Clark County, the capacity limits rose from the state-mandated 50% to 80% on Saturday and will be eliminated when 60% of eligible county residents have received at least one vaccination shot.
Rosen said that while businesses have to take precautions to ensure people can come back safely, she's not convinced there should be any government requirements for "vaccine passports,” certificates that show someone was vaccinated against COVID-19 and would allow them to enter places like stadiums.
“We’re going to have to find a good way to compromise and protect everyone. I’m not sure a passport is the way to go forward. I think that we can do a lot of other things to build consumer confidence to reconvene," she said.
The senator said if people don't take the vaccine, then there still needs to be strong COVID-19 testing and contract tracing to keep people safe, along with other measures like mask-wearing.
Rosen said her casino tour included a visit to the front desk, where guests can now use contactless, digital check-in and digital room keys.
“I think that's been a great move forward,” Rosen said.
The senator said the Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion she chairs will be focusing soon on the impact COVID-19 has had on international travel, a big driver of visitors to Las Vegas, and on hospitality workers.
Rosen, who once worked as a waitress at Caesar's Palace, also toured a health centre for the casino workers' Culinary Union.
Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press